Congress workers came out in large numbers across Majha region to demand the resignation and arrest of revenue and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia after the arrested drug kingpin Jagdish Singh Bhola hinted at his involvement in drug business.
A section of Congress leaders demanded that the Akal Takht take action against the minister for his alleged role in running a drug racket.
Congress workers belonging to the Amritsar (rural) unit of the party also held a meeting on the issue. The meeting took the shape of a protest, a couple of metres from the local police station. An effigy of the minister was burnt and the protesters demanded that a case be registered against him followed by arrest.
They said chief minister Parkash Singh Badal should sack the minister from his cabinet immediately.
Later addressing the media, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) general secretary Lalli Majithia warned that if Bikram Majithia was not sacked and arrested, the party would hold protests in every nook and corner of Punjab.
He said that party workers will not let the minister enter the Majitha constituency and will 'gherao' him if he makes such an attempt. He asked the chief minister to come clear on the issue as the minister concerned was Badal's relative.
Majitha is the ancestral village and the home constituency of Bikram Singh Majithia, from where he has been elected to the assembly twice.
He said since Bhola had hinted at the involvement of more ministers and political leaders in the drug business, the chief minister should recommend a CBI inquiry into the case.
DCC (rural) president Gurjeet Singh Aujla, Amritsar DCC (urban) chief Rajiv Bhagat, PPCC vice-president Sardool Singh Bundala and PPCC secretary Joginderpal Dhingra were also present.
Aujla claimed that Jagjit Singh Chahal, an accomplice of Bhola, also arrested in connection with the racket, was close to Majithia.
Traffic blocked on NH-15
Congress workers led by PPCC general secretary Harminder Singh Gill staged a dharna at Harike on NH-15 against Majithia, demanding his resignation from the cabinet. They blocked vehicular traffic for about an hour.
Gill demanded the minister's arrest for allegedly having nexus with drug mafia.
"I also appeal to the Akal Takht jathedar to summon Majithia and take action against him as per the Sikh tenets, as he is a member of a 'panthic' party, whose leaders have been summoned by the Takht in the past. Moreover, the jathedar himself has expressed concern over drug abuse in the state," Gill said.
Another protest was organised by Tarn Taran DCC chief Sukhpal Singh Bhullar in Tarn Taran town.
Cong MLA demands inquiry into assets
Congress MLA from Dera Baba Nanak Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa demanded an inquiry by an independent agency into the movable and immovable assets of all the present and past MLAs from Majha belt.
"A number of political leaders have become rich overnight. This needs to be investigated as the sources of earnings for some could be through drug business," said Randhawa, while calling upon all the former and present legislators to cooperate if such an inquiry is instituted.
Ex-Cong leader wants Bajwa to come clean on issue
Tejpreet Singh Peter, a former Congress leader from Tarn Taran, has called upon PPCC chief Bajwa to "come clean on the involvement of his own party leaders in drug business.
Peter reminded Bajwa of a letter he had written to him in June last year in which he had appealed to him not to include "drug-tainted politicians" in the PPCC.
"Despite my appeal, Bajwa has sought to reward certain persons with important posts in the PPCC. These people have links with the drug mafia and I had named them in my letter," said Peter.
Disgruntled Congress men absent from protests
Congress leaders who were unhappy with the PPCC list were not seen during the protests in Amritsar and Tarn Taran. In Tarn Taran, former DCC chief Dharamveer Agnihotri, who quit as PPCC secretary, did not join the protests.
In Amritsar, senior leader Darbari Lal, Jugal Kishore Sharma and a number of others also kept away from protest at Majitha.
PPCC vice-president and Majha in-charge OP Soni also did not take part. When contacted, Soni said he was out of the town.