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Temple priests arrested for smuggling firearms in Sangrur; buyer held too

The two priests belong to UP, while the buyer is from Sangrur. Three pistols were also seized from the trio.

punjab Updated: Feb 27, 2018 19:35 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Sangrur
Temple priests,firearms,arms smuggling
The accused priests in police custody in Sangrur.(HT Photo)

Police in Punjab’s Sangrur arrested two alleged suppliers of firearms who have been working as pujaris (priests) at temples in the area for a decade.

Police said that while the priests were arrested at a checkpost near Kakuwal village in Dirba subdivision on Monday — when they were coming from Patran to Sunam area on a bike — a “buyer” was arrested on Tuesday after interrogating the duo, and three pistols were seized from the trio.

The two priests are Bhagwan Dass, alias Karan, and Lekh Raj, both 40 years old, of Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. The alleged buyer is Avtar Singh, alias Lali (age not known), of Khadial village near Sunam.

“These priests have been in the district for a decade and have sold six pistols to different people in the surroundings. They bought the countrymade pistols from UP and sold them at Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000 in Punjab,” said senior superintendent of police Mandeep Singh Sidhu. Police seized a .32 bore pistol and a .12 bore pistol, besides four cartridges, from them; a .32 bore pistol and two cartridges were seized from Lali.

Bhagwan Dass was working at Thakur Mandir in Sunam for a year and had earlier served at Gaushala Mandir in Dirba in 2007. “He tried to elope with a girl at Dirba in 2009 but was caught by the residents. That ended in a compromise,” Sidhu claimed, “He was also booked under Arms Act at Mathura in 2011.”

Lekh Raj, who is a relative of Dass’, served at Sunam, Khadial and Uppli villages since 2007, the SSP added. “He sold two pistols to Lakhwinder Singh Lakhi of Mehlan Chowk in 2016; police arrested Lakhi and recovered both pistols... The three men will be produced in court and, after getting remand, police will probe their 10 years’ history.”

The two priest were booked under sections 483 (counterfeiting) of the Indian Penal Code and, along with Lali, under the Arms Act too.

First Published: Feb 27, 2018 19:30 IST