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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Akali Dal’s Valtoha became MLA twice without being acquitted in 1983 murder case

Dr Sudarshan Kumar Trehan was shot dead in his clinic on September 30, 1983, by militants while treating a patient. Two men, Baldev Singh and Hardev Singh, who were arrested on November 15, 1984; said Akali Dal leader Valtoha was also involved.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2019 23:48 IST
Jatinder Kaur Tur
Jatinder Kaur Tur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Akali Dal Bikram Singh Majithia (C) with party leader Virsa Singh Valtoha (R) and Veer Singh Lopoke (L) addressing a press conference in Amritsar on Tuesday, January 01, 2019. (File Photo)
Akali Dal Bikram Singh Majithia (C) with party leader Virsa Singh Valtoha (R) and Veer Singh Lopoke (L) addressing a press conference in Amritsar on Tuesday, January 01, 2019. (File Photo)(HT Photo)
         

Though he was not acquitted in the high-profile 1983 murder of a doctor in Patti in the Majha hinterland, once a militancy hotbed, Virsa Singh Valtoha became an Akali MLA twice. Police files on the case are also missing, investigations by the Hindustan Times have revealed.

Dr Sudarshan Kumar Trehan was shot dead in his clinic on September 30, 1983, by militants while treating a patient. Two men, Baldev Singh and Hardev Singh, who were arrested on November 15, 1984; said Valtoha was also involved.

However, the matter was hushed up. No charge sheet was presented formally by the police accusing Valtoha of murder, as is evident from the file records procured by the Hindustan Times.

It is yet to be understood how Valtoha, despite the murder case, managed to avoid rigorous checks and police scrutiny and was appointed to the Subordinate Service Selection Board, Punjab, before being selected chief parliamentary secretary, Punjab, by the Akali government, apart from being an MLA twice.

In a complaint on Thursday to SPS Parmar, inspector general of police, border range, Amritsar; the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) under justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd) has demanded a fresh probe in the murder case and the disappearance of the police files of the case (FIR No. 346 dated September 30,1983) registered under section 302, 307, 452, 34 of the Indian Penal Code at the Patti police station in Amritsar, Punjab.

PHRO also questioned how a murder accused such as Valtoha could manage to get a passport and state protection, with gunmen.

When contacted, Parmar said he had marked an urgent inquiry to the SSP Tarn Taran and asked for a report to be filed immediately.

Interestingly, Hindustan Times investigations also revealed that the FIR register still mentions Valtoha as a ‘proclaimed offender’ even though he managed to get bail in this case in February 1991 from then district sessions judge JS Sidhu.

Baldev Singh and Hardev Singh were acquitted by the court in November 1990 as they delinked their case from Valtoha. In prison after Operation Blue Star, he was not allowed to come to court because of section 268 CrPC,which prohibits a person from being removed from prison.

When contacted, Valotha said he had a copy of the bail order but not the acquittal orders in the case, claiming at the same time that he had been acquitted. “I have not asked for records of my acquittal in various cases nor deemed it necessary to do so.

He said the police and prosecution were at fault for not maintaining records related to the case.

Alleging that Valtoha had been given political patronage, the PHRO wanted the role of Patti police officials probed for issuing security clearance reports in Valtoha’s favour when he was appointed to various prestigious posts in the Akali government.

Valtoha had also declared before the Election Commission that there were no pending criminal cases against him.

What the election office says

Dr S Karuna Raju, the chief electoral officer, has said that misrepresentation of information before the Election Commission regarding criminal cases against a candidate will be dealt with according to rules.

Timeline:

* September 30, 1983: Dr Sudarshan Trehan shot dead.

*November 15, 1984: Baldev Singh and Hardev Singh arrested. Virsa Singh Valtoha is named in the case after they confess to his involvement.

*November 6, 1990: Baldev Singh and Hardev Singh were acquitted by the court in November 1990 as they delinked their case from Valtoha. In prison after Operation Blue Star, Valtoha was not allowed to come to court.

*February 1991” Valtoha, though declared a proclaimed offender on January 4, 1985, gets bail in this case.

* Police did not file a charge sheet formally accusing Valtoha in the case.

*Meanwhile, case files disappear from the police station.

WHO IS VALTOHA?

Former extremist turned politician, Virsa Singh Valtoha of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) faced multiple cases including those pertaining to murder, robbery and terrorism, including the murder of Harbans Singh Manchanda, the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee president, in March 1984.

First Published: Jan 13, 2019 23:48 IST