Chargesheet in Bhola drug racket names ex-Akalis Phillaur, son Damanvir, Avinash
Sarwan Phillaur and Chander, who had switched to the Congress just before the February assembly polls, are first among politicians formally named as accused in a chargesheet in the racket in which names of many leaders have cropped up.punjab Updated: Jul 12, 2017 22:16 IST
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday filed another chargesheet, against 12 persons, in the multi-crore Jagdish Bhola drug case, naming former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur, his son Damanvir Phillaur, and former SAD MLA Avinash Chander as accused too.
Sarwan Phillaur and Chander, who had switched to the Congress just before the February assembly polls, are first among politicians formally named as accused in a chargesheet in the racket in which names of many leaders have cropped up. In April this year, the ED had attached with the case the houses of both the leaders in Jalandhar.
In the chargesheet filed by ED deputy director Niranjan Singh in the CBI court at Mohali, the agency has sought prosecution on charges carrying jail terms of up to 12 years and confiscation of properties worth more than Rs 100 crores already attached in the case. They face charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
“After Jagdish Bhola named Phillaur’s son Damanvir involved in this trade, we investigated their properties and other assets. Our probe has found wealth they collected through illegal means. They had common business with Goraya-based businessman Chunni Lal Gaba whose factories were manufacturing illegal drugs,” says the chargesheet. A diary seized by the income tax department at Gaba’s premises had found an entry of Rs 8 lakh paid to Chander.
The other accused include Amritsar-based businessman Jagjit Singh Chahal, who is a former SAD leader, his brother Paramjit Singh Chahal and wife Inderjit Kaur. Chahal is already in the Nabha jail.
Davinder Sharma of Una (Himachal Pradesh), who worked as a manager at Chahal’s drug manufacturing factory in Gagret; Jaswinder Singh of Shahkot (presently in Surrey, Canada), Sachin Sardana and Sushil Sardana, Kailash Sardana and Sushil’s wife Rashmi Sardana also figure on the list.
So far, the ED has filed five chargesheets, naming 68 persons. Properties worth more than Rs 1,000 crores have been attached.
Wednesday’s chargesheet was the last one filed by ED officer Niranjan, whose transfer from the case in 2015 days after he interrogated then-minister Bikram Singh Majithia of the SAD in the case had created a political storm. The Punjab and Haryana high court had later stayed his transfer.
Notably, as per an application moved by the ED headquarters in the HC in May, the agency has said that since Niranjan was promoted as deputy director from assistant director in January this year, as per department manuals he cannot act as the investigating officer (IO) while holding such a senior post. Sources said Niranjan has been given key cases in Delhi by the ED, and an assistant director posted in Jalandhar has already been named as the new IO.
KEY CHARGES AGAINST THE TRIO
Sarwan Singh Phillaur, former SAD minister, no Cong leader
1. Failed to give sources of many properties
2 His son made many properties when Phillaur was minister
3. Shareholder in many businesses with Goraya-based businessman Chunni Lal Gaba named in case
Avinash Chander, former SAD MLA, now in Cong
1. A diary entry of having got Rs 8 lakh from accused Gaba
2. Failed to provide sources of money used in his palatial house in Jalandhar
3. No concrete or direct evidence against involvement with drug peddlers
Damanvir Phillaur, son of Sarwan Phillaur
1. Bhola said in a statement that Damanvir introduced smuggler Varinder Raja to manufacturer Gaba
2. Found to be a director in Gaba family’s firms that manufactured illegal drugs
3. Huge unaccounted-for investments in different firms