In a sudden move, the entire staff at the Kandaghat police station, including Station House Officer (SHO) Dalip Singh, were shifted and sent to the police lines in Solan hours after Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Monday met Baba Amardev, a self-styled god man facing accusations of land encroachment at village Rurra, 12 km from Kandaghat.
The action, which is likely to snowball into a major controversy in the area, has already caused serious tension in Tundal panchayat area where the villagers accused the CM and his ministers of patronising the self-style Baba instead of giving justice to the villagers who were allegedly assaulted with a sharp-edged weapon on April 26 by him.
Two parallel FIRs have been registered at the Kandaghat police station in after the incident.
On Chief Minister’s orders on Monday afternoon, after he drove to IGMC hospital in Shimla to meet Baba Amardev where he is admitted after alleging attack on him by the villagers, Director General of Police Sanjay Kumar not only packed off the thana staff, around 23 of them, but also transferred the investigation into both the FIRs to the CID, understandably at the demand of Baba.
Also, on Tuesday, more than half-a-dozen villagers, including some women named by the baba in the FIR, were arrested after Solan court declined to grant them bail. “I am not sure about the number of persons arrested, but there have been arrests in the case, said the DGP. Asked about unceremonious action of shifting entire staff of the police station, Sanjay Kumar said, “There are reports of laxity on the part of the police. Transfer is no punishment.”
Locals said Baba Amardev had encroached upon huge chunk land in the area and had often been threatening to send all those who resisted him them behind bars. They said the CM, minister Colonel Dhani Ram Shandil (retired) and two other ministers were regularly seen at the Baba’s under-construction Shri Ramlok Temple at village Rurra. Last year, the government had moved a proposal to the cabinet to regularise all illegal encroachment done by baba at 5.6 bighas of the government land, but top officials, quoting rules, got the move dropped. Nevertheless, the Baba allegedly continued to get the help from local agencies including PWD to build a road to the temple.
“Last night, orders were issued to PWD engineers to take police assistance and move to the place with necessary machinery and equipment to complete the road. The villagers, who came to know about this, threatened to block any work if the government was directly involved to help the baba,” said an officer here .
Revenue officials confirmed that Baba had been issued two notices under Section 163 of the HP Revenue Act for encroaching upon 5.6 bighas of government land by undertaking fencing of the area. The forest department, however, was yet to act even as he was alleged to have axed four trees.
Solan’s Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kanwar, who had been smelling trouble in the area after last night’s movement of the PWD and police force, met the Chief Minister on Tuesday and apprised him about the developing situation.
A 52-year old woman ,who was allegedly attacked with a sword and was left severally injured was still at the hospital at Solan. The villagers had met CM some days back to seek justice.