Taking a U-turn on his earlier stance, former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh has sought a CBI probe in the multi-crore drug racket besides demanding the resignation of Punjab revenue minister Bikram Majithia for a fair investigation.
The demand assumes significance in wake of the resignation by Punjab minister for jails, tourism and cultural affairs Sarwan Singh Phillaur on Thursday on moral grounds after his son Damanvir Singh’s name came up during the investigation being carried out by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into the drug racket.
Druglord Jagdish Bhola had named Dharamvir for his alleged involvement in the drug racket during the interrogation.
On January 7, Bhola outside the Mohali court had named Majithia before the media for his alleged association with the drug racket, which the latter had vehemently denied.
The ED has attached the statement of Bhola in the chargesheet as an annexure where the latter had alleged that Majithia and Damanvir had links with drug smugglers.
Amarinder told Hindustan Times that he came to know of the enormity of the drug abuse in Punjab, especially in the border districts, during his poll campaign in the Amritsar parliamentary constituency.
“I was astonished to learn the scale of drug abuse in the border districts, especially among the
youth. I don’t think Punjab Police have the will or the wherewithal to go deep into the drug racket and break the nexus prevailing between the operators and those occupying high positions,” said Amarinder.
He said in order to have a free and fair probe into the drug abuse in Punjab and those patronising its operations in the region, it was mandatory to have it investigated by the CBI.
He also demanded that chief minister Parkash Singh Badal ask Majithia to resign immediately.
Amarinder said the drug smuggling in Punjab must be simultaneously tackled at the international, national and the local levels.
“Being the border state, Punjab becomes an easy target for the drug operatives active in the golden crescent, which includes countries s uch a s Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.
Nationally, we have to be extra vigilant from adjoining states Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh and locally, the Punjab Police must have good coordination with the paramilitary forces manning the border to check drug smuggling,” he said.
However, earlier, Amarinder was not in favour of the CBI probe when Majithia’s name had come up in the drug racket.
Amarinder had invited flak from various quarters for opposing the CBI probe on the grounds that it would delay the investigation. He rather supported the Punjab Police probe for taking the issue to its logical end.
On the other hand, PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa and the state Congress unit backed by AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmed had organised a chain of protest demonstrations in Punjab as well as in the state capital, demanding Majithia’s resignation and the CBI probe against him.
Bajwa and senior Congress leader Jagmeet Singh Brar had also moved the Punjab and Haryana high court seeking directions for the Punjab gover nment to order the CBI probe into the drug racket. The court, however, had dismissed their petitions.
MAJITHIA ASKS CAPT NOT TO PLAY POLITICS ON ISSUE OF DRUGS
Revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithi aurged Capt Amarinder Singh not to play politics on the issue of drugs, saying the Congress leader was treating the issue like a circus show, which could be switched on or off as per his political convenience.
Majithia said the SAD-BJP government had not stopped any agency from probing the drug menace in Punjab. “It is, however, a fact that no other agency has been as successful as the Punjab Police is striking at the heart of this menace.
The huge recoveries during the last two years and the two fold increase in the number of cases registered as well as arrests shows the war against drugs is truly on in Punjab.”
Majithia said he wanted to remind Capt Singh that the hardened criminal Bhola could have been nipped in the bud earlier when he was arrested in a drug case during the latter’s government.
“However, Bhola was allowed to go free and strengthen his network causing untold misery to thousands,” the Akali leader said.
Majithia said he had stated from day one that he was open to any fair and impartial inquiry of any kind. “If Capt Singh can prove his allegations, I will quit politics and face capital punishment. I will not settle for anything less,” Majithia added.