The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached properties worth at least Rs 100 crore owned by drug lord Jagdish Bhola and his alleged accomplice Maninder Singh alias Bittu Aulakh and their families in Punjab.
Bhola, a former Arjuna awardee, and Aulakh, a prominent Akali leader of Amritsar, are in the ED’s net for running a multi-crore international drug racket.
A former DSP with Punjab Police, Bhola owns vast tracts of land at various places in the state besides residential and commercial plots.
As many as 33 properties belonging to Bhola, Aulakh and another accused Sukhjinder Singh Sukha, Rs 1 crore in cash recovered during the course of investigation or lying in bank accounts besides Bhola’s vehicles have also been attached. The details of the properties have been sent to the revenue officials concerned on March 31.
This is the second such move in the high-profile case. Earlier, the ED had attached properties worth Rs 300 crore belonging to NRI Anoop Kahlon and Manpreet alias Mani Gill, also accused in the case. Kahlon and Gill were arrested by Punjab Police in 2013.
Moneychangers to face music
Sources following the investigation into the Bhola drug case said the ED is in the process of attaching properties of the two main moneychangers who had been also arrested in the case. The Chandigarh-based moneychangers — Gurdeep Singh Manchanda and Ankur Bajaj — were allegedly involved in sending drug money abroad for Bhola. The two are among the 12 people named as accused in the second chargesheet filed by the ED on March 2.
The list of properties attached reveals how Bhola, who began his career as a wrestler, made it big, benefiting his relatives. He, along with his relatives, owns large tracts of land in Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Rupnagar, Bathinda, Khanna and SAS Nagar.
Crores in just 3 months
Interestingly, Bhola acquired land worth crores in just three months in 2012. This is the time, state the ED officials, when Bhola had made huge money through several consignments of “Ice” (pseudoephiderine) smuggled abroad.
These included 251 kanals of land in Nangal bought in August 2012, another 10 kanals in Nangal bought in July 2012 and 11 kanals bought at Rupnagar in June 2012. Bhola had, in March 2012, bought a house at Phase 10, SAS Nagar, which was raided by Punjab Police following Kahlon’s arrest. In 2012, he went on to buy another 12 kanals of land in Bathinda.
Most of the properties have been bought in the name of Bhola’s father Balshinder Singh, mother Baltej Kaur and wife Gurpreet Kaur. Some properties are also in the name of Bhola’s son Sadik Singh.
The details of the properties reveal that Bhola seems to have got into the big league of criminals almost 10 years ago. He acquired a host of properties beginning 2004 in Bathinda and Ludhiana and continued to do so till 2008.
In 2009, he bought a one-kanal property in Kansal village, near Chandigarh, which houses several VIPs of the state. In 2011, he bought his first house at Phase 9 in SAS Nagar.
Aulakh’s properties that have been attached include lands in and around Amritsar.