Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) general secretary Harminder Singh Gill has claimed that Sahib Singh Sabba, a local resident from whose possession 14kg heroin were seized on Tuesday, is close to food and civil supplies minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, son-in-law of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
The Congress leader asked the CM to sack Kairon, the Patti MLA, from the council of ministers. He also demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the drug racket in Punjab.
Sabba, a resident of Garden Colony here, was arrested by the State Special Operations Cell (SSOC) of the Punjab Police from Ram Talai locality of Amritsar on Tuesday. The heroin, smuggled from Pakistan and valued at Rs 70 crore in the international market, besides Rs 8 lakh in Indian currency, was recovered from his possession. He was booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and is currently being questioned by the SSOC.
Later, Gill sent a photograph by e-mail to HT, which purportedly showed Sabba in Kairon’s company in Chandigarh. The photo was taken on March 14, 2012, immediately after Kairon was sworn in as cabinet minister in the Akali-BJP government.
In a statement, Gill said, “I have all along maintained that the drug smuggling and drug distribution racket in Tarn Taran district is being carried out with the support of ruling party politicians, including ministers and MLAs. The district police are scared of these politicians and so will not arrest the drug dealers. This is the worst-affected district with the maximum number of addicts.”
Gill, who unsuccessfully contested this year’s Lok Sabha polls from the Khadoor Sahib constituency, was among the first Congress candidates to bring the drug problem to the fore during campaigning. Even in his election speeches, he had alleged that the drug racket flourishing in Tarn Taran district had the support of senior Akali leaders.
“Punjab director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini cannot be trusted as he has already given the clean chit to Akali leaders, so a CBI inquiry is a must. Let there be a CBI investigation as now an Akali-friendly government is in power in Delhi,” he added.
Kairon denies charges
Kairon, who was busy in Chandigarh, asked KS Bhatia, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member from Patti and his close associate, to speak to HT on his behalf.
Denying Gill’s allegations, Bhatia, who was briefed on the phone by the minister, said, “Kairon sahib is a minister, a public figure and so is quite unaware of all the people who surround him during public functions and at meetings. So, if someone comes and stands behind him during photo sessions, he possibly cannot just push him away. Neither can he know every individual’s character.”
Bhatia denied any close links between Kairon and Sabba, saying, “Many people from Patti go to meet Kairon sahib in Chandigarh everyday and Sabba may have also gone. If a minister goes to attend a function of a criminal or a bad element, then definitely a probe should be ordered.”
Bhatia made it clear that Kairon had always taken a tough stand against criminals and smugglers and had specifically asked police officers not to spare such elements. Even in Sabba’s case, he will recommend tough action, Bhatia added.
“Gill wants to malign Kairon sahib as he lost three successive assembly elections to him,” he claimed.