Local parliamentarian and former minister Chaudhary Santokh Singh on Friday appeared before Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a case of money laundering in the multi-crore-rupee drug racket. He is the first Congress leader whom the ED has summoned to interrogate in this high-profile case.
In a show of strength before joining the investigation, the MP arrived before the ED in a cavalcade of more than 10 vehicles and the company of all district-level senior Congress leaders. Summoned at 1pm, he joined the investigations an-hour-and-a-half late.
Accompanying him was former minister and his elder brother, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh; former minister Amarjit Singh Samra; District Congress Committee presidents Rajinder Beri (urban) and Jagbir Singh Brar (rural); state Youth Congress president Vikram Chaudhary, and many other local leaders. Within 10 minutes, the ED sent all of them back before deputy director Niranjan Singh started with questioning the MP.
No link with Gaba: Chaudhary Santokh
Chaudhary, who earlier used to run for the Phillaur assembly seat in Jalandhar district, denies that he is on good terms with Chunni Lal Gaba, whose secret diary seized on February 18 contains the names of the Punjab leaders bribed for support to the synthetic drug racket. Chaudhary claims the Goraya businessman and Akali leader is close to his political rival Sarwan Singh Phillaur, who now is Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) legislator from Kartarpur after representing Phillaur in the assembly many times.
Chaudhary and Phillaur have contested against each at least four times. Since Gaba has been one of the main people who did fundraising for the Akali leaders in Phillaur, the name of Chaudhary in his diary as recipient of the election fund has surprised many.
“This is what we have been saying all along. Why would a leader accept election fund from a sworn political opponent. The Gabas are election agents of the SAD. The businessman’s elder son, Gurmesh Gaba, has remained Gorya Municipal Council vice-president as member of the SAD. We are being dragged in to divert the focus of the inquiry from the Akali leadership,” said the MP’s son, Vikram Chaudhary.
The ED had summoned the Congress MP last week after the central investigating agency found his name in the secret diary of Gaba, one of the key accused in the money laundering case related to the synthetic drug scam. Gaba is behind bars in this case.
The MP had been in the ED office for more than five hours till the fling of this report. Sources said he had appeared with documents relating to the family business and been asked about his relations with Gaba.
Respite to CPS
The investigation against the Congress leader has come as a respite for Phillaur’s Akali legislator and chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Avinash Chandar, who for his alleged links with the Gabas was a target of jibes in the constituency where the Chaudhary family continues to challenge him.