Chandigarh looks for its VIP fugitives | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Chandigarh looks for its VIP fugitives

Being the joint capital of two states and the headquarters of a union territory gives Chandigarh a lot of VIPs, including two who are now on the run.

chandigarh Updated: Nov 03, 2009 08:59 IST

Being the joint capital of two states and the headquarters of a union territory gives Chandigarh a lot of VIPs, including two who are now on the run.

Prithpal Singh, a man of religion who heads a prominent gurdwara in Chandigarh's upscale area near the famous Sukhna Lake, has been declared a proclaimed offender by a local court.

Singh and the other fugitive, Congress councillor Devinder Babla, are well-connected not only with other VIPs but also with certain Chandigarh police officials. The same police force has been tasked to find them now.

"The police are looking for these persons. They cannot escape from law for long," a senior city police officer told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Singh, who has been absconding since the police booked him in May last year, is wanted in a case of cheating, fraud and criminal conspiracy. He has been charged with selling land belonging to someone else.

The religious preacher who prefixes the title Baba (godman) to his name, runs the Gurdwara Gur Sagar Sahib near Sukhna Lake. Visitors to this gurdwara include top politicians, bureaucrats, police officers and other influential people.

Big names who have been to the gurdwara and are associated with the preacher include former union ministers Balram Jakhar, Arjun Singh and Buta Singh, former Punjab governor (late) Surendra Nath and former Punjab chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Several politicians and VIPs from Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh are also known to the preacher, who wears traditional white robes.

Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala had cleaned shoes in this gurdwara a few years ago as penance after he was held guilty by Sikh religious leaders for violating the religion's code of conduct.

The other known fugitive from law in the city, Devinder Babla, is a councillor in the city's municipal corporation and a general secretary in the Chandigarh unit of the Congress. He is considered close to union parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

Babla has been booked by the vigilance wing of Chandigarh Police for alleged irregularities in allotment of sheds in the city's grain market last year when he was chairman of the market committee. Each of the sheds was worth a few million rupees.

But minister Bansal has defended Babla, saying the Congress leader has been framed in the case.

"He and other Congress leaders have been framed in cases at the behest of UT (union territory) administrator S.F. Rodrigues (who is also Punjab Governor)," Bansal said.

Babla, who has been on the run since he was booked and is facing a court 'lookout' notice, has claimed that he is being hounded for political reasons.

Babla has also been declared a proclaimed offender in another case of rioting registered against him and other Congress leaders in 1997.