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Posted at: May 19, 2019, 6:47 AM; last updated: May 19, 2019, 10:16 AM (IST)

Liquor seized after Gandhi, Rakhra stage overnight dharna

Aman Sood & Karam Prakash

Tribune News Service

Samana/Patiala, May 18

Following a night-long dharna by two prominent candidates in fray from Patiala — SAD-BJP’s Surjit Singh Rakhra and incumbent MP  Dharamvira Gandhi  — the district administration today seized huge amounts of country-made liquor from a rice sheller in Samana, allegedly owned by Congress supporters. 

While an FIR has been registered, the two leaders threatened to move the High Court if the erring officials and sheller owners were not booked. The Congress denied any role in storing liquor. 

According to Rakhra, he got a tip-off from his supporters that liquor trucks were being off-loaded at Mahadev Rice Mill sheller in Fatehpur village. “Around 10.30 pm, I along with my supporters reached the spot and informed the Samana SDM, Naman Marken. He reached there along with the local police, but instead of conducting a raid, they indirectly started delaying the matter. Following this, our supporters raised slogans and held a dharna,” said Rakhra, adding that the officials did not enter the sheller for four hours. 

“Later, Dr Gandhi also reached the venue and we blocked the Samana-Patran road against police inaction. However, the sheller gates were kept closed and only a few policemen and administration officials were allowed to enter. Later, we saw huge smoke inside the sheller. We were not allowed inside till 4 am,” Rakhra claimed. 

Dr Gandhi alleged that the electoral officers played a partisan role and instead of taking “the media and us inside, they allowed drugs stored inside the sheller to be burnt”. 

“Even liquor was allowed to be shifted from the backside as the wall was broken and bottles were scattered all around,” he alleged. 

Later, the police recovered a truck, a car with a sticker sporting the Congress’ Samana MLA’s name and photo, along with banners and flags of Congress. Liquor brands of Cobra and McDowell were neatly packed in boxes and were stored in two huge halls inside the sheller. 

Rakhra and Dr Gandhi alleged that it was not their duty to conduct such raids, but of the electoral officials.

Gandhi live-streamed the raid as the media was denied entry. The SDM said, “Initially the media can’t be allowed entry as per law. We will inform the media later.”

SDM Marken said excise officials were informed and a case would be registered after investigation. 

Police have registered an FIR against sheller owner Gullu Bansal under Section 61 of the Excise Act at Samana city police station. No arrest has been made in the case. As many as 229 boxes of liquor were recovered from the spot. 

Later, Samana DSP Jaswant Mangat and SHO Baljit Kumar were shifted at the intervention by the Election Commission.   

Meanwhile, the Congress cadre have outright rejected that the liquor was stored by them. “We are already winning the seat by over one lakh votes. We demand a thorough probe into this. This is a conspiracy to malign our image ahead of the polling day,” they said.

Both Rakhra and Dr Gandhi demanded deployment of Central forces for the polling process.

Both booked

Dr Dharamvira Gandhi and Surjit Singh Rakhra were booked on Saturday for obstruction of traffic and holding a night-long dharna. The EC too issued them a notice for holding a press meet in violation of model code. TNS  

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