Mehraj rally: Delhi Police made no effort to arrest Lakha, says Punjab Police
Punjab Police says neither there is written information about Lakha being a fugitive in the Republic Day violence case nor on presence of Delhi Police in Bathinda on Tuesday
Chandigarh A day after Republic Day violence fugitive and gangster-turned-activist Lakha Sidhana addressed a gathering in Mehraj village of Bathinda and disappeared, Punjab Police claims that there is no official communication from the Delhi Police about his ‘wanted’ status.
“Till date, the Bathinda police neither have any official (written or verbal) communication from the Delhi Police regarding Lakha being wanted in the Republic Day violence case nor that there is a reward of ₹1 lakh for information leading to his arrest. How could we arrest him at a rally attended by hundreds of his supporters,” a top Punjab Police functionary said.
Another senior police officer, who was personally monitoring the situation, said Delhi Police also follows Punjab Police rules and there is Form 12 which, as a rule, is shared with the police of the state a wanted person belongs to or is hiding, but that didn’t happen in this case. Form 12 has information about the fugitive concerned, he said.
“But no such communication has been made so far with the Bathinda police by any of the police stations of the national capital,” a senior police functionary privy with the developments said.
Lakha, 45, belongs to Sidhana village of Rampura-Phull sub-division in Bathinda district.
Another senior Punjab Police official added that Bathinda police had no information regarding the presence of Delhi Police officials in the district to nab Lakha and there was no question of Punjab Police could have detained or arrested him on their own.
“To arrest a person wanted in other states, a set-procedure is followed where the team of the state police where the case is registered comes with the arrest warrants or the case files. Delhi Police team was not in Bathinda and no such effort was made on their part on Tuesday to nab Lakha,” the police functionary said.
Notably, Lakha on February 21, had also posted a live video on Facebook announcing to address a rally in Mehraaj village of Bathinda. At the rally on Tuesday, Lakha dared the Delhi Police to arrest him and also warned chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh to not let Punjab Police assist Delhi Police in nabbing those accused of R-Day violence.
Punjab Police also clarified that since the case against Lakha has been registered in the national capital and the gangster-turned-activist is not wanted in any case in Punjab, only Delhi Police have to take initiative to arrest him.
Other accused in the Republic Day violence case were arrested as per the due procedure, the officer said.
The Punjab government, meanwhile, has raised doubts over the sincerity of the Delhi Police in nabbing Lakha. “As Mehraj rally was mainly organised by the Sikh radicals, delay in Lakha’s arrest could be part of the strategy to expose hardliners’ support to farmer agitations,” said a senior Congress MLA.
As per intelligence officials, around 10,000 persons attended the rally that included Lakha’s aides in Rajasthan where he had been active as a gangster.