The Patiala police have formally arrested Goraya-based businessman Chunni Lal Gaba, named in the multi-crore drug smuggling racket in Punjab by arrested druglord Jagdish Bhola. Gaba’s son Gurjit Singh alias Monu, who was declared a proclaimed offender (PO) in the synthetic drugs case, was arrested on June 19 by a special team. His elder son Gurmesh Gaba is a senior Akali leader and former senior vice-president of the Goraya nagar panchayat.
Sources said Chunni Lal, a close aide of former minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur, was detained along with Monu on June 19, but because of his ailing health the police had to admit him to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital in Ludhiana. After treatment for a day, he was formally arrested on Friday and was in police remand for a day. “On Saturday, at 2pm, Chunni Lal was produced before a local court that has sent him in judicial custody,” said superintendent of police (detective) Jaskiran Singh Teja, who led the team that nabbed the father-son. Inspectors Shaminder Singh and Davinder Attari were part of the team.
Chunni Lal, who appeared before the ED on June 16, is the co-owner of a pharmaceuticals unit at Gagret in Himachal Pradesh whose premises were allegedly used to make pseudoephedrine, a chemical used in illegal synthetic drugs.
His arrest specifically turns the heat on Phillaur’s son Damanvir Singh, who has also been named by Bhola and is under the lens of the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Phillaur had in fact resigned from the state cabinet after Damanvir’s name came up in the case.
Bhola had told the ED that Chunni Lal had introduced Delhi-based smuggler Varinder Raja to Damanvir for the racket.
But despite serious accusation in the case in which the ruling SAD is already on the backfoot, Gurmesh Gaba’s political might in the nagar panchayat office continues.