Treetop protester is a proclaimed offender, say police

April 20th, 2011 - 3:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, April 20 (IANS) Even as Avtar Singh Nagla continued his unique form of protest by sitting atop a eucalyptus tree in a village in Mohali Wednesday, it came to light that he has been declared a proclaimed offender by a Chandigarh court in 2010.

Avtar, in his late 30s, perched himself atop a tree, around 40-foot above the ground, at Nagla village here Friday. He is demanding a fresh probe in a nearly four decades old land dispute and an audience with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for the same.

“Avtar had taken Rs.24 lakh from a Chandigarh resident on the pretext of allotting a gas agency to him by using his contacts and influence. However, he could not do that,” said a police officer.

“When the victim demanded his money back, Avtar gave him two cheques that bounced. Wherever police went to arrest him, he managed to escape. Therefore, he was declared a proclaimed offender by the court in October 2010,” he added.

Police sources said that Chandigarh Police can arrest Avtar anytime.

Meanwhile, officials were trying their best to persuade Avtar to come down, but he was adamant in his demand.

Dera Bassi sub-divisional magistrate Puneet Goyal assured Avtar of taking him in his official car to the chief minister, but even that didn’t convince Avtar who wants the chief minister to himself come and see him.

“We have tried our level best to bring him down but he is not ready to listen to us. He is changing his statements at regular intervals,” Goyal told IANS.

Avtar, who is protesting in Nagla village, has made all the provisions for his highly-placed protest - water bottles, eatables including a stock of roasted nuts, and a mobile phone. He’s also armed with an axe, in case someone tries to climb up and disrupt his novel protest.

Last week, Avtar told IANS that the “state government had given several acres of land here on lease to a paper mill company so as to provide employment to the villagers. But the mill owners sold the land to a property dealer at very high prices. I want that land back”.

Nagla in Mohali district, located on Chandigarh-Ambala highway near Zirakpur town, is around 15 km from Chandigarh.

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