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Punjab DGP orders inquiry into church priest's claims on cash seizure

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(Eds: Updating with latest inputs) Chandigarh, Apr 1 (PTI) The Punjab police ordered an inquiry on Monday into the allegations of a church priest, who has reportedly accused the Khanna police of showing Rs 9.66 crore instead of a total seizure of Rs 16.65 crore. Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta marked an inquiry to IGP, Crime Praveen Sinha to examine the reported claims, official sources said here. On Saturday, the police had claimed to have seized Rs 9.66 crore of "hawala" money from six persons, including church priest Anthony, from a location near the GT Road at Doraha in Khanna. The next day, at a press conference held in Jalandhar, Anthony had accused the Khanna police of showing Rs 9.66 crore, instead of the Rs 16.65 crore seized from them, and claimed that the cash was accounted for. However, the Khanna police had dismissed his allegations as baseless. It had claimed that the money was seized from six occupants of SUVs during checking following a tip-off. The police had also claimed that they had prior information about the movement of "black or hawala" money in the vehicles from Jalandhar to Ambala. The police had handed over the cash and the accused to Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate officials for further investigation. Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) urged Punjab's chief electoral officer on Monday to order a probe into the allegation of Anthony. "The SAD asked Punjab's CEO to order an independent probe into the misappropriation of Rs 6.99 crore from a priest. This seemed to have happened with the connivance of the Congress party and its leaders and the money could be used to influence voters," alleged a member of an Akali Dal delegation that met state CEO S Karuna Raju here. The delegation comprised SAD leaders including Daljit Singh Cheema, Sikander Singh Maluka and Charanjit Singh Brar. Cheema said Anthony had claimed that the Khanna police had seized Rs 16.65 crore, but it had shown Rs 9.66 crore. "We have reasons to believe that the remaining amount of Rs 6.99 crore has been misappropriated at the instance of the Congress party and will be used to influence voters. The Election Commission needs to take strong notice of this and order an independent probe to ensure that the money is not misused against their political rivals in the forthcoming parliamentary polls," he added. The Akali Dal also sought withdrawal of the state CEO's instructions, whereby the poll official had directed the police to take appropriate action against prominent Akali leaders and workers who blocked roads during a "dharna" in 2017. The SAD delegation described the instructions as "unfair". It said the protest was staged after a "dastardly" attack on Akali leaders and workers at Makhu, following rejection of their nomination papers in the civic bodies polls. They claimed that false cases were registered against the senior Akali leadership and workers. Notably, three RTI activists, in a complaint sent to the state CEO, had claimed that senior Akali leaders, including Sukhbir Badal and Bikram Singh Majithia, were booked for cognizable offences for blocking national and state highways in December, 2017 and were yet to be arrested. PTI CHS VSD RC

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