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Out on bail in loot case, Congress MLA aide elected sarpanch unopposed in Amritsar

Besides facing charges of looting two truckloads of rice at gunpoint, ruling party worker was also held with illegal firearms

chandigarh Updated: Dec 28, 2018 14:19 IST
Anil Sharma
Anil Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
chandigarh panchayat polls,amritsar,sarpanch
Sartaj Singh Sandhu

A Congress worker, who is out on bail in cases of looting two truckloads of rice and for carrying an unlicensed weapon, has been elected sarpanch unopposed from Margindpura village in Tarn Taran district’s Bhikhiwind sub-division ahead of the state panchayat polls scheduled on December 30.

Sartaj Singh Sandhu, who is reportedly close to the party MLA from Khemkaran, Sukhpal Singh Bhullar, was arrested under the Arms Act on December 2. He was nabbed with an unlicensed .12 bore riffle and 10 cartridges at a naka in Chheharta of Amritsar.

He was released on bail after he was remanded to two-day police custody.

Also a commission agent, Sartaj was also arrested in November 2017 by police for looting two truckloads of basmati rice at gunpoint in on the Tarn Taran bypass in Amritsar district. Besides Sartaj, police had also arrested his accountant Jasbir Singh and a worker. Police had claimed to have recovered the looted rice bags from Sartaj’s house.

A case under Sections 392 (punishment for robbery), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement) and Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act was registered against them.

On Sartaj’s input, police in December 2017 arrested two of his accomplices Harpreet Singh alias Sandhu of Naushehra village in Majitha and Gurpreet Singh alias Gopi of Harike in Tarn Taran with a Hyundai i-20 car and a trailer and two tractors they had snatched in Jalandhar.

On the input of these two, police once again recovered 170 bags of basmati rice from Sartaj’s Tarn Taran residence. The police had said the accused had looted around 1,300 bags of basmati (each containing 50 kg) worth nearly ₹20 lakh.

Chhatwind station house officer (SHO) Gurwinder Singh said, “After his arrest in the rice loot case, Sartaj remained in Amritsar jail for five months in the jail and is currently on bail. The case is pending in court. We have substantial proofs against him.”

Block development and panchayat officer (BDPO) Bhikhwind said Sartaj was elected as sarpanch unopposed as no one filed nomination papers against him.

Bhikhiwind sub-divisional magistrate (SDM)-cum-returning officer (RO) Anupreet Kaur said, “We were not aware of the cases registered against Sartaj. If someone had raised an objection, we could take action. Now, since the scrutiny period is over, we can’t do anything.”

Former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA from Khemkaran Virsa Singh Valtoha said, “No Akali worker was allowed to file nomination paper in the village due to pressure of the ruling Congress. It is very shameful that a person with criminal record has been made sarpanch.”

First Published: Dec 28, 2018 14:19 IST