Having become a hot potato for the allies SAD and BJP, Enforcement Directorate assistant director Niranjan Singh, who was probing cases related to the high-profile Rs 6,000 crore drugs money laundering crime in the state, has been shunted out of the case at a time when the investigating agency was closing in on Punjab revenue minister Bikram Majithia.
The frosty ties between the ruling allies in Punjab were showing signs of a thaw before the crucial Delhi polls.
According to sources in the ED, former Akali leader Bittu Aulakh has given "information that could be incriminating" against Majithia during his questioning by the team led by Niranjan Singh last week, giving details of the minister's close association with accused NRI drug dealers Satpreet Satta, Parminder Pindi and Amarinder Laddi.
Following this, the ED was preparing to summon Majithia, the brother of union minister Harsimrat Badal and brother-in-law of Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, again before filing the challan in February.
As the minister so far had evaded replies on his association with NRI drug dealers in the questionnaire prepared by the agency, he could even have been arrested on his next visit, sources in the ED said.
The challan has to be filed in the trial court within 60 days of questioning of the accused. Now with his transfer, the filing of challan will be delayed endlessly before the officer who replaces him reads the case files and interrogation reports running into thousands of pages.
Only on May 1 last year, Niranjan Singh had been awarded the President's Medal for meritorious work in the Bhola drug case. He was posted in Jalandhar for a little over two years after his stint in Chandigarh.
Two other accused, arrested kingpin Jagdish Bhola and Amritsar businessman Jagjit Chahal, who owns pharma companies that allegedly made precursor chemicals used in manufacture of synthetic drug, ICE, have already named Majithia during their questioning by the ED.
The politically motivated move comes at a time when the ED has moved the Punjab and Haryana high court, alleging "intimidation" by Punjab Police and all three accused have sought that the investigation into the drug case be shifted from the Punjab Police to the CBI.
The ED officer had earlier arrested former union minister of state for defence Krishna Kumar in 1998 in a hawala case.
Being given 'challenging work'
New Delhi: Sources said Niranjan Singh was transferred to Kolkata on the grounds that many important cases like the Saradha and Rose Valley scams were being probed there and his services would be better used there than his last posting at Jalandhar.
"The officer has been transferred to Kolkata. There is no connection with his transfer and the drugs case he was probing," sources in the agency said, adding that Singh was being sent on "an important" assignment in Kolkata and because of his good work he was being given a "challenging work".