The police have booked Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) leader Sukhpal Singh Bhullar under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC for allegedly forging his birth documents and passport and using these for contesting the elections of the PYC held last year.
The case was registered at Valtoha police station in Tarn Taran district on Monday after a detailed inquiry lasting six months conducted by the Tarn Taran police. The police went to arrest Sukhpal from his house at Amarkot but he was not present there. HT had first highlighted the date-of-birth controversy during the PYC polls.
Interestingly, the complainant in the case was not an Akali leader, but Congress leader Tejbir Singh Sandhu alias Peter, a resident of Bhikhiwind. The complaint was filed before the office of the deputy commissioner during the PYC elections last year. The deputy commissioner had asked the SSP to conduct the inquiry on the basis of which the case was registered.
Sukhpal, son of former minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar, had contested the elections to the post of the PYC president and had lost to PYC chief Vikram Chaudhary. Gurchet also had lost to SAD candidate Virsa Singh Valtoha from Khemkaran constituency in the last assembly polls.
Peter in his complaint, a copy of which is with HT, had claimed that for showing his eligibility for contesting the PYC polls, Sukhpal had submitted forged birth documents and passport, showing his date of birth as June 24, 1978. He had even got his passport prepared by showing his date of birth as June 24, 1978 as for contesting the PYC elections a candidate has to be less than 35.
In the complaint, it was pointed out that for the arms licence, Sukhpal had submitted a document with his date of birth as June 25, 1975. On the PAN card the date of birth recorded is June 24, 1978.
"The inquiry has established that one of the two dates of birth is wrong. If the date of birth 1978 is taken to be correct, then how could Sukhpal be issued an arms licence in 1996 for which a person must be at least 21. If the date of birth is 1975, then how was he allowed to contest the PYC polls," Peter said when contacted by HT.
Peter has demanded that Sukhpal also be booked under the Arms Act for getting an arms licence while being below 21. However, the police have not applied the Arms Act in this case.
Sukhpal alleged that the case against him was politically motivated and registered at the behest of Khemkaran SAD MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Virsa Singh Valtoha. The registration of the case coincides with the Khemkaran nagar panchayat elections which Virsa is bent on winning, he said, while alleging that the nomination papers of a number of Congress candidates were rejected by the returning officer for the poll on the orders of the Akali MLA.
When told that the complainant was a member of his party, Sukhpal alleged, "A group of Congressmen of his area, including Peter and his supporters Dhanwant Singh, Daljit Singh and Jagjit Singh were hand in glove with Virsa and they had played a key role in the defeat of the Congress candidate and his father in the assembly polls from Khemkaran. We have already sent written complaints to PPCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh and he has served a 72-hour notice to Peter to explain his anti-party activities."
He said Peter and his supporters were responsible for registration of a case under Section 326 of the IPC against his brother a couple of months ago. He claimed that Peter had been against his family as he had always failed to get the assembly ticket.
Peter, on the other hand, denied having received any notice from the PPCC chief. The case had been registered after a detailed investigation, he added.
"I will reply to any notice I receive. In fact it is not me who has been hand in glove with the Akalis, it is the Bhullar family who have business interests with certain Akali leaders. We have even given Amarinder Singh certain documents related to the 'activities' of the Bhullars," Peter added.
He said a copy of the inquiry report along with the case registered would be given to the PPCC and also sent to AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi and the All India Youth Congress headquarters. During the PYC elections, the party observer had been apprised of the fake birth documents and he had assured that if found true, action would be taken against Sukhpal, he added, while demanding his expulsion from the party.
On his role in the assembly polls, he pointed out that the Congress had a lead from Bhikhiwind, the town to which he belongs. The Congress in fact led from villages around Bhikhiwind and trailed from Amarkot area from where the Bhullars come, he added.
Brushing aside the allegations by Sukhpal, Virsa said, "The case has been registered on the complaint of a Congress leader and not of an Akali. Where is the case of political vendetta that the Congress and its leader Amarinder speak of?"