Even as electoral campaigning picks up for the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll scheduled for October 11, local police have booked senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Sucha Singh Langah on charges of sexually exploiting a woman constable for nearly a decade.
Langah, who served as the agriculture minister in the Akali Dal government from 2007 to 2012, is also accused of defrauding her.
The politician, in his defence, termed the allegations against him as a classic case of political vendetta that has been unleashed to harm SAD’s prospects in the Gurdaspur bypoll. However, he decided to quit all party positions to “ensure that the law takes its course” without any hindrance.
Langah promised to surrender before a court on Saturday, as was required in his capacity as a “responsible citizen”.
The 39-year-old complainant claimed in the FIR that she used to study in the same class as Langah’s daughter, Sarabjit Kaur, at the Bebe Nanki College in Gurdaspur. She has accused the 61-year-old politician of forcing her to have sexual relations with him for over eight years under threat of death.
The woman, while registering the complaint, also claimed to have shot a 20-minute video that shows Langah sexually exploiting her. The clip was provided to the police in a pen drive, Gurdaspur senior superintendent of police Harcharan Singh Bullar said, adding that the probe has been handed over to deputy superintendent of police AD Singh.
A case was registered against the SAD politician after due consultation with the additional district attorney.
The complainant’s nightmare began in 2009, when she and her relatives met Langah (the then agriculture minister) at the Kisan Bhawan in Chandigarh to seek a job on compassionate grounds. Her husband, a police constable, had passed away – leaving nobody to provide for the family.
“The minister asked me to meet him alone after two days. I did as told because getting a job was very important to me; I had two children to tend to,” the complainant said in the FIR.
The woman vividly recalled the first time Langah allegedly forced himself on her. “I begged the minister to spare me. I even tried reminding him that I was his daughter’s classmate, and – therefore – like a daughter to him. But he wouldn’t listen. He told me that having sexual relations with him was the only way I could get a government job,” she said.
Attempts to resist his advances were quelled with death threats. “Whenever I tried putting up a fight, the minister would tell me that he knows gangsters in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh who would kill anybody he wants at a moment’s notice. I dared not speak against him because he was a very powerful man,” the woman said in her statement.
Langah has been a senior member of the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) for over two decades now. Though the politician’s attempts to win from Dera Baba Nanak in 2012 and 2017 were unsuccessful, he is still considered the backbone of SAD in Majha region.
Langah would allegedly fix meetings with the victim in Chandigarh with the help of a senior police officer in the state secretariat. She finally decided to shoot the video because she did not think anybody would take her word over the politician’s if she filed a regular complaint.
The complainant also accused Langah of cheating her monetarily. “Langah sold a one-acre plot of land that belonged to me in Sohal village under the pretext of buying property for me in Chandigarh. Though he made Rs 30 lakh from that transaction, I got a paltry Rs 4.5 lakh. When I protested, he got a local bank to issue a loan of Rs 8 lakh in my name. However, even from that I got just Rs 1 lakh,” the FIR read.
The former minister has been booked under sections 384 (extortion), 420 (fraud) and 506 (criminal intimidation), besides section 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code.
Langah said a false case has been foisted against him in order to harm his party’s prospects in the Gurdaspur byelection. “This political witchhunt began with the bypoll announcement, after we complained to the director general against seven station house officers who registered over 200 false cases against fellow-workers,” he added.
The former minister said this particular FIR by a member of the Punjab police department had been registered in haste, after a false complaint was filed before the senior superintendent of police on Thursday.
Declaring his intention to resign from all party posts as well as the SGPC, he said: “I have full faith in the judiciary. Therefore, I will submit to the process of law by surrendering in court tomorrow. I firmly believe that the truth will emerge, and justice will be done to me.”
Langah was campaigning for BJP-SAD candidate Swaran Salaria at Dera Baba Nayak earlier in the day, when word of the rape case reached him. He immediately summoned a private car and sped away from the venue, leaving all his government-provided guards behind.
He has been untraceable ever since, although Gurdaspur police are conducting raids across the region.