HindustanTimes Thu,18 Dec 2014

Drug racket: Punjab jails minister Phillaur resigns

Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, May 23, 2014
First Published: 07:40 IST(23/5/2014) | Last Updated: 10:15 IST(23/5/2014)

The recent drug racket unearthed in Punjab cast its shadow on the parliamentary poll where the SAD-BJP lost much ground. Within a week of the results, the first head has rolled.

Minister for jails, tourism and cultural affairs, Sarwan Singh Phillaur, resigned on Wednesday taking moral responsibility for the alleged involvement of his son Damanvir Singh in the racket.

Phillaur, 66, told HT that he went to Delhi on Wednesday and submitted his resignation to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in the presence of deputy CM and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal.

CM Badal has forwarded the resignation to governor Shivraj Patil, recommending that it be accepted. Phillaur claimed that he had resigned on his own, but sources said he was was told to quit.

The drug racket became a big issue during the poll campaign, especially in Jalandhar parliamentay constituency of which Kartarpur assembly constituency is part, from where Phillaur is the SAD MLA.

The state government apparently has launched multi-pronged damage control by starting a crackdown on peddlers. Blaming the media for repeatedly dragging his son’s name into the racket, Phillaur said his patience had been tested and he “could not bear bringing a bad name to the government anymore”.

Druglord Jagdish Bhola, lodged in the Nabha jail, on being questioned by the enforcement directorate had reportedly named Damanvir, following which the directorate summoned Damanvir, but he did not appear before it.

Bhola had also named revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia before the media in January during a court appearance in Mohali.

During campaigning in the LS polls, Capt Amarinder Singh, Congress candidate from Amritsar, had blamed Majithia for his role in the drug trade.

“News reports against me and my son would keep coming but the government would no longer be dragged into it,” said Phillaur, terming his son “innocent”.

According to Phillaur, the enforcement directorate had called his son after the media raised the issue. “He never evaded interrogation; I am ready to make my son face interrogation by any agency and he would come out clean,” Phillaur said.

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