Extortion, cross-border smuggling case: Gangster-turned-politician Lakhbir Landa declared innocent on eve of his rally

In a major flip-flop, Taran Taran police on Saturday declared gangster-turned-politician Lakhwinder Singh alias Lakha Sidhana innocent in the cross-border arms and drugs smuggling, and extortion case which was registered at the Harike police station around a month ago.

Sidhana was among 11 persons, including most wanted Canada-based gangster Lakhbir Landa, who were booked on September 2. Landa, who is also the prime conspirator of the Mohali rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack case, is the king-pin of the case in which Lakha was a co-accused.

The development comes a day before Sidhana’s scheduled rally in Mehraj city of Bathinda. Sidhana has appealed his followers to gather in the rally to counter the “tyranny”. Thousands of people are expected to attend the rally. Sidhana and his supporters were also likely to hold discussions on the case during the rally.

Senior superintendent of police (SSP), Tarn Taran, Ranjit Singh Dhillon has also written to Ferozepur-range inspector general (IG) and informed him about the innocence of Sidhana in the case. “A report regarding the case has been received from superintendent of police (detective). As per the report, it was found that the preliminary investigation was conducted by sub-inspector Harjit Singh, who is Harike station house officer (SHO), in the case. During the investigation, nothing concrete evidence was found against Lakha and he has been declared innocent. A report in this regard has also been registered at the Harike police station,” the letter reads, the copy of which is with HT.

The SSP confirmed the development, but refused to make any comment. According to the first information report (FIR), the accused have formed a gang and its mastermind Landa is operating from Canada for the smuggling of arms, ammunition and drugs using drones from Pakistan.

The other nominated members of the alleged gang are Nachattar Singh, Satnam Singh, Gurkirat Singh, Anmol Soni, Charat Singh, Gurjant Singh, Mahavir Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Daljit Singh. All the accused are from various villages in Tarn Taran district.

The case was registered on the basis of a tip-off which was received by a team of Harike police. “Landa has been demanding money from big businessmen and rich people through his henchmen. These members threaten people by opening fire and compel them to offer money. They also threat to kill the family members of those from whom the money is sought. Satta and his associates have been sending the extortion money to Landa through Hawala channels,” the FIR reads.

It further says: “Landa further sends the extortion money to Pakistan for the smuggling of heroin and illegal weapons through drones.”

The case was registered under Sections 386, 387, 388, 389 (extortion) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and various Sections of the Arms Act and the NDPS Act. The case came to the light on October 1 after many followers of Sidhana claimed on social media that he was nominated in a “fake” case by Punjab Police.

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