New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to withdraw all cases against late liquor baron Ponty Chadha in the state. The decision was taken in a Cabinet meeting in Uttar Pradesh. Ponty Chadha, who was the sole liquor distributor in Uttar Pradesh, died after a shootout between him and his brother Hardeep at his farmhouse in Delhi. Hardeep was also killed in the shootout.
Ponty Chadha's other business interests included real estate, sugar mills and film production, which he used to look after along with his two brothers - Hardeep and Rajinder. The business empire was reportedly worth Rs 6,000 crore.
However, no arrests have been made in regard to the double murders case. The police are yet to find significant leads into what led to the shootout. The police have said that a clash between the two brothers had taken place in another farmhouse, located a few kilometers away, on the morning of the shootout.
Ponty was known to be close to the Samajwadi Party but after Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party came to power, he changed his loyalties. His business also flourished during the BSP regime and Ponty floated 16 companies right after Mayawati took over as the chief minister in 2007. These companies were given contracts ranging from real estate to sugar mills to film production and distribution.
After the Samajwadi Party returned to power in March 2012, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said that he would hold a probe against Ponty and his wealth but not much was done following reports that the party had patched up with the controversial businessman. Earlier, in February when Uttar Pradesh was gearing up for Assembly Elections, the Income Tax department had conducted raids at 17 locations across the state and New Delhi including a prime shopping mall - Centrestage Mall in Noida - and farmhouses owned by Ponty. After the searches in February, the Income Tax department had said that it had seized Rs 11 crore in cash, jewellery and fixed deposits and sealed 13 bank lockers. Three months after the raids, an Income Tax official said that Ponty had disclosed an "unrecorded income of Rs 175 crore" to them.
The police are now probing the murders of the two brothers. According to the police, Ponty's men had tried to remove Hardeep's supporters from their farmhouse in Kapashera in southwest Delhi, and that two men had even been arrested for that. The police version has contradicted a claim made by a close relative mediating between the warring brothers who claimed the shootout was not linked to the dispute over the farmhouse. Delhi Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee chief Parminder Singh Sarna, who had mediated, had claimed a settlement had been reached between the brothers.
According to the family, the immediate provocation could be fit of rage and had nothing to do with the farmhouse, but sources say that police continue to maintain that it was the fight for possession of the property which caused the two deaths.