iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

Vishal Rambani, Hindustan Times
Patiala, November 15, 2013
A day after the Congress demanded a CBI probe into the drug trade in Punjab alleging involvement of Akalis, the police have arrested SAD leader and its Amritsar rural unit treasurer Maninder Singh Bittu Aulakh, a close confidante of Ajnala MLA Amarpal Singh Bonny Ajnala, in connection with the Jagdish Bhola-led drug racket.


While Aulakh had been Bonny's election agent, he is also the treasurer of the Amritsar SAD rural unit, headed by Bonny's father, Khadoor Sahib MP Rattan Singh Ajnala.

Though Aulakh did not have a gunman, he had the security cover as Ajnala had reportedly given him his gunmen. Aulakh indulged in costly SUVs, mobile phones and spending lavishly on rallies of the Ajnala family. It has come to the fore that he used a red beacon vehicle in smuggling of the ICE making chemicals to Bhola.

Besides Aulakh, who is the owner of a hotel in Amritsar, the police have also arrested Amritsar-based businessman Jagjit Singh Chahal, a resident of Romana Chak village, Baba Bakala. Drugs worth Rs. 5.8 crore have been recovered from them.

SSP Hardial Singh Mann on Thursday said, "The police unearthed two important supply chains of precursor chemicals (ephedrine and pseudoephedrine) used in manufacturing of the synthetic drug ICE (M-amphetamine). Chahal and Aulakh have been arrested in this connection."

On their role in the racket, the SSP said Chahal operated three factories manufacturing precursor chemicals ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which were diverted illegally from the medicine sector to the manufacturing of the synthetic drug ICE. Chahal manufactured these precursors at MBP Pharmaceuticals, Baddi, Montek Bio-Pharma, Baddi, and Tulip Formulations, Damtal, near Pathankot.

The entire stocks and equipments were being thoroughly checked to examine the modus operandi of the illegal diversion of the precursor chemical from the medicine sector to illegal manufacturing of synthetic drugs. Two kilogramme of pseudoephedrine (worth Rs. 2 crore) and 250 gm of ICE (worth Rs. 1.25 crore) have been recovered from Chahal, and another 2 kg of pseudoephedrine (worth Rs. 2 crore) has been recovered from Aulakh.

Mann said Chahal supplied precursor chemicals to Bhola and others through a go-between who had been identified and raids were on to nab him.

Aulakh operated an independent supply chain of precursor chemicals for Bhola and procured these from the medicine sector and supplied them to Bhola, said the SSP, adding that further investigation to uncover the entire supply chain and arrest all the involved persons was on.

Both Chahal and Aulakh come from respectable backgrounds and are well established in Amritsar in different lines of business. Chahal has multiple business interests, including a flourishing tyre manufacturing business. He has a penchant for luxury cars with the number 0001.

Despite repeated attempts, Bonny Ajnala and Rattan Singh Ajnala were not available for comment.