Uttarakhand to drop Ponty associate Namdhari as panel chief

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 20, 2012 11:06 hrs

Dehradun/New Delhi: The Uttarakhand government has initiated steps to remove Sukhdev Singh Namdhari, amongst those present at the south Delhi farm house of liquor baron Ponty Chadha when he was shot dead, as chairman of the Uttarakhand Minority Commission.

Namdhari was appointed by Uttarakhand's earlier Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and the now ruling Congress had not taken any steps to remove him.

"We did not want to disturb the status quo as the post had a tenure. But in light of the latest developments, the state government will move to do what is needed," Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said Tuesday.

"The process for his removal has been initiated," Bahuguna added.

A chorus for Namdhari's resignation has already started.

"He should resign on moral grounds. He has no right to continue after being involved in such a sordid incident," Surya Kant Dhaswana, who is vice president in the state Congress unit, told IANS by phone.

Namdhari was a close friend and business partner of the slain Ponty Chadha, who owned several businesses, including transport companies, in the state.

The late liquor baron, sources say, patronised Namdhari and was instrumental in his appointment as the chairman of the Minority Commission.

Sources said Namdhari's close association with Chadha worked in his favour. It ensured that he continued to hold his post at the commission despite the government change in the state.

According to Dhaswana, Namdhari came into the limelight after he was suddenly appointed chairman of the commission in 2010.

Namdhari, said to be in his 50s, has more than three dozen cases against him. These include murder, attempt to kill and dacoity, said a police official.

He also owns many properties in Punjab and abroad, Dhaswana alleged.

"We allowed him to continue his three years of tenure because it is a constitutional post," he said.

After the chief minister sought a detailed report on the matter, Uttarakhand Director General of Police Satyavrat Bansal has asked the state police to coordinate with Delhi Police on the developments.

Senior officials in the state told IANS that legal consultations are going on and it is only a matter of time before Namdhari is eased out.

The official added that the government may not have a case against Namdhari in strictly legal terms but his being present at the shootout crime scene has given the state government "enough reasons to axe him".

According to Delhi Police sources, Namdhari often came to the national capital to discuss business−related matters with Ponty Chadha.

Namdhari was provided a personal security officer, Sachin Tyagi, by the state government in 2010. Tyagi is from Roorkee district.

Tyagi is alleged to have sprayed Hardeep, Chadha's younger brother, with bullets in retaliation to the fire he apparently opened on the liquor baron on Saturday.

In his statement to Delhi Police, Namdhari stated that he drove along with Chaddha to his farmhouse in south Delhi's Chhattarpur area.

The moment they arrived at the farmhouse, Hardeep began shooting at them and came at close quarters and shot Ponty Chaddha, he reportedly told the police.

Namdhari, who belongs to Udham Singh Nagar in Uttarakhand, said he saved himself by slipping out of the rear door.

The Chadha brothers were cremated Sunday evening.

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