After nearly 22 hours of interrogation over suspected involvement in drug peddling, the police here let off Shiromani Akali Dal leader from Phillaur, Gurmail Singh alias Bhola, late on Tuesday night.
While political rivals alleged that Gurmail had been released due to political pressure from his patron, Akali MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Avinash Chander, sources in the police said he had provided vital information regarding the drug trade.
And Gurmail, who switched on his mobile phone as soon as he was freed by the police, told HT that the police had interrogated him in “general cases, not in drug peddling”. “Some of my political opponents had given certain applications against me to ruin my political career by leveling false allegations.
There is no question of involvement in drugs,” he stressed.
Gurmail, a senior vice-president of the Youth Akali Dal, had been detained around 2am on Monday night, and released around midnight on Tuesday.
While all junior officers remained tightlipped as to why he had been released, the senior superintendent of police (SSP) of Jalandhar-rural, Narinder Bhargav, who reportedly led the interrogation team, was not available for comment despite repeated attempts by HT.
Some officials said, off the record, that he had been released before completion of 24 hours in detention; otherwise, the police would have had to for mally arrest him.
Though the move to let him go has raised eyebrows, sources in the police added that he had named six persons as prime drug sellers in Phillaur, which is counted as one of the worsthit by the menace in Doaba re gion, and also given clues into the illegal sand mining in the area. A diary with records of distribution of money by Gur mail was also seiz ed by the interrogation staff, added a source.
Meanwhile, Phillaur legislator Avinash Chander made no comments after the release, even though he had openly criticised police action against Gurmail, whom he had described as a “dedicated soldier of the SAD”. Gurmail is seen as a key aide and fundraiser for Chander.
The opposition Congress, though, jumped at the epi-sode. “If there was no evidence against the powerful SAD leader, why did the police interrogate him for nearly 24 hours and then suddenly let him go? Isn’t it a joke when the Punjab police are claiming to have come down hard on drug peddlers? It’s purely the pressure from CPS Avinash Chander that led to his release, as more revelations by Gurmail could have put him too in the dock,” said state youth Congress chief Vikramjit Singh Chaudhary.
‘DRUG SUPPLIERS’ GIVE COPS THE SLIP IN GORAYA
In Goraya, a special team of the Ludhiana police from the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) police station, in a secret operation, was chasing an Innova (PB-01- 9251) that met with an accident and the two persons inside managed to flee.
PAU station house officer (SHO) Surinder Kumar told HT that the police had a tip-off from two arrested men that the Innova was carrying a supplier.
In Phillaur, the police crackdown on drug peddlers continued, and 10 persons were reportedly arrested.