M A I N   N E W S

Sodhi in soup over Jaipur visit
Stayed with Pak female friend who didn’t have visa

Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, January 6
Senior Punjab Congress leader and Guruharsahai MLA Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi seems to have landed in a soup after it came to light that he took along his Pakistani female friend to Jaipur on the New Year eve despite her not having visa.

The woman in question, Nazmi Rizvi, a resident of Rawalpindi, had entered into India from Wagah Border on December 25. She accompanied Sodhi to Jaipur on December 29 and stayed at a five star hotel here till January 2 despite the fact that she only had the visa to visit Delhi, Agra and Chandigarh.

According to sources, Sodhi reportedly concealed her identity and projected her as one of her family members when he checked into the hotel at 5.30 pm on December 29. He was allotted three rooms - Room Nos. 133, 271 and 370 - for four members, including self, at the hotel.

The matter came to the fore after Rizvi mistakenly revealed her identity to a hotel staff on December 31 evening when she inquired from a floor manager as to where from she will get good handicrafts which she can take to Pakistan.

When the floor manager further queried her she revealed that her husband stays in Pakistan. The hotel’s general manager immediately intimated the police about the matter. The hotel had also informed the police that Sodhi would check out of the hotel at 1 pm on January 2.

The police then informed the concerned CID officials in this regard. However, no immediate action was initiated in this regard even as Sodhi and those accompanying him, including Rizvi, checked out of the hotel on January 2.

The CID later issued a show-cause notice to the hotel, seeking clarification from it on the issue. The CID has also recommended to the state’s home department to blacklist Rizvi. While the current whereabouts of Rizvi are unknown, Sodhi could not be contacted for his comments on the issue despite repeated attempts.

When contacted, SP (South) Jose Mohan admitted that he had received the information regarding Rizvi on December 31 and added that he passed on the information to the concerned Zonal Officer (CID) on the very same day. Acting IGP (Security) Sunil Mathur could not be contacted as he was busy in a meeting.

As per the norms, whenever a foreigner checks into a hotel, the hotel management has to get his/her C-form filled to which Xerox copies of passport and visa will be attached. The same has to be submitted to the Zone Office of the CID within 24 hours. Apart from it, a hotel has to inform the Zone Office (CID) about it within four hours of any foreigner checking into it.

As per the hotel records, Sodhi was also accompanied by his wife. He has made the entry in the hotel record as “Mr and Mrs Sodhi + two members”. While the third member has been identified as Rizvi, the fourth member is yet to be identified though unconfirmed reports say it was also a woman. Rizvi was issued visa from December 24, 2009 to March 23, 2010. While her passport number is AC9896672, her visa number is P918289.



Who is Najmi Rizvi?
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Who is Najmi Rizvi? According to visa documents, Najmi Rizvi is a 54-year-old married woman from Rawalpindi. Though the column of the spouse’s name has been left blank, name of Syed Akbar Nawab has been mentioned in the column of father’s/husband’s name.

On December 24 last year, she was granted 30 days’ Visitors Visa to India. The validity of this visa is till March 23, 2010. Interestingly, she got her passport issued only on December 12, just 12 days before she got the visa for India.

Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi also admits that she is a family friend.

She has been allowed to visit Delhi, Chandigarh and Agra in Uttar Pradesh only.

The Visa documents also bar her from visiting any cantonment area.

Intriguingly, the Visa document puts Panchkula in Chandigarh state.

And she has given the name and Panchkula address - H. No 1741, Sector 4 - of Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi as her contact person in India.

Interestingly, the visa also exempts from reporting to the police. Under Visa rules, unless a visitor or tourist, especially from Pakistan, is exempt from police reporting, he or she has to mark her attendance at the nearest police station of his or her stay in India.

Besides, the Indian mission in Islamabad also allowed her entry into India through the land route at Wagah.



Punjab Cong on defensive
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The Jaipur episode has not only blunted Leader of Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal’s onslaught against the SAD-BJP regime over Ludhiana violence but also put the party on the defensive.

Irrespective of the allegations and denial of allegations, the issue is snowballing into a major political embarrassment for the Congress that had been at the receiving end after some recent political developments, including the Governor ND Tewari case.

Reports from the Rajasthan capital indicate that Punjab Congress MLA from Guru Harsahai Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi had checked in a Jaipur Hotel on December 28 along with three female family guests without revealing their identity. One of the guests, Najma Rizvi from Rawalpindi in Pakistan, had reportedly no visa to visit Jaipur or anywhere in Rajasthan.

They checked out of Jaipur hotel on January 2. Intriguingly, though the police came to know about Najma Rizvi on December 31, no action was initiated till she left the Pink City.

Rana Sodhi, however, denies all allegations saying the Pakistani woman had “unknowingly come to Jaipur thinking that her Indian visa was valid for the whole country.” She returned to Delhi immediately after hotel staff informed her next day that she had no visa for Rajasthan. “I cannot be held responsible for her ignorance or her actions,” said Rana Sodhi.

He says though Capt Amarinder Singh was also in Rajasthan those days, he was not staying with him in the hotel.

The issue has provided a much-needed lever to the ruling SAD and BJP members to do Congress bashing. Besides, it may also lead to intensification of cold war within the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee as Rana Sodhi is considered a confidant of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Interestingly, senior Congress leaders have avoided the media on the Jaipur episode on the pretext of being on “holidays”.

The SAD and BJP leaders are virtually overwhelmed and are planning a massive counter-offensive. They maintain that “women culture” was nothing new to the Congress as they reel out names of senior Congress leaders or their kin of Punjab, Haryana and Uttarkhand to substantiate their allegation.

“Besides shredding the fabric of morality, Congress leaders are wittingly or unwittingly playing into the hand of anti-India forces, including the ISI. Who knows what designs these Pakistani guests of Congress leaders have in mind in frequenting India? Are not these Congress leaders playing with the security and integrity of the country in the name of personal friendships? These are some of the issues that Akalis and BJP leaders threaten to rake up in the coming days.

Rana Sodhi, however, has denied his role saying he along with his wife and daughter had gone to Jaipur where Najma Rizvi had chanced to meet them at the hotel. Najma had gone to Ajmer to pay obeisance there. He admitted that Najma Rizvi was a friend of his wife. He blamed vested interests within and outside the party.

In spite of Rana Sodhi’s version, there is no explanation how did Najma Rizwi plan visits to Ajmer and Jaipur without any valid visa for Rajasthan. Her visa was valid for Chandigarh, New Delhi and Agra, maintain police sources in Rajasthan. Her explanation, according to Rana Sodhi, was that she never checked the Visa document, thinking it to be valid for the whole of India.

“When she came and met us in Jaipur, she told us she wanted to go the Ajmer shrine to pay obeisance. It neither occurred to me nor was it my duty to ask her whether she had a valid visa for Rajasthan also or not. My presumption was that since she is visiting India and everyone from Pakistan visits Ajmer, so she must have visa for Rajasthan also. So when I submitted all my papers at the booking counter, her passport was also there. She came on December 30,” clarifies Rana Sodhi. And the next day after careful examination of her passport and visa, the hotel staff told her that she had no visa. She was given her passport and she left for Delhi the same day.

“It is not only a moral issue but also a serious matter as it involves the security and integrity of the country. How can a responsible man like a former minister and sitting MLA escort and play host to a woman from an alien land especially when she had no valid visa to be in a sensitive border state like Rajasthan,” comments a senior Congress leader on condition of anonymity.

The Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, refused to be drawn into any controversy. “Like others, the incident has come to my notice only through news channels. I have been trying to get in touch with Rana Sodhi. Till I talk to him, I shall not be in a position to comment,” she said. Mohinder Singh Kaypee, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, also could not be reached as he was away to Sirdi.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |