Even as the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) started celebrating on Thursday after rumours that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had given the clean chit to Punjab revenue minister Bikram Majithia in the multi-crore drug racket, the ED later burst the bubble by the evening.
“What chit? Where is the chit?” said ED assistant director Niranjan Singh, the case’s investigating officer whose transfer has been stayed by the high court, as he came out of the agency office at Jalandhar, counter-questioning the media.
Rubbishing the reports as rumours and a “mysterious strategy to divert the probe”, ED officials said that Majithia could, in fact, be summoned again before a chargesheet is filed. There was no question yet of giving the clean chit to the minister, who was interrogated by the ED for nearly four hours on December 26, as the investigation was yet to go towards what he had said, said ED officials. “Majithia was questioned only once. He is yet to give some details, so nothing is clear. No clean chit can thus be given or even charges be framed with such a small investigation,” added an ED official from the agency’s headquarters in Delhi.
There are also plans to send a team to Canada from where some NRIs used to operate the racket, the official further told HT.
As for Majithia, he could be summoned again specifically to verify the statements of three prime accused, Varinder Raja, Sukhjeet Sussa and Bittu Aulakh. Statements of Aulakh, an Akali leader from Amritsar “who had remained associated with the minister politically”, would be a key point whenever Majithia, brother-in-law of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, is summoned again, said the official on the condition of anonymity.
Officials saw the rumours as a ploy to affect the probe particularly since the Punjab and Haryana high court has extended the stay on the transfer of Niranjan to Kolkata till February 26.
SAD celebrations: meaningless or premature?
Scotched in the evening by the ED, reports of a clean chit to revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia in the Punjab drug scandal spread like wildfire on Thursday. SAD ministers Sikander Singh Maluka and Tota Singh, and chief parliamentary secretary Virsa Singh Valtoha, even issued statements from the party headquarters terming the “clean chit” as against “expose of the nefarious propaganda of Congress that was bent upon defaming the state”.
“The ED clean chit… has approved the Punjab government's stand on the drugs issue, besides putting the misleading campaign of opposition on mat once again,” the ministers’ joint statement read.
They even went ahead and demanded a public apology from Congress leaders, especially state unit president Partap Singh Bajwa “for pointing accusing fingers at Majithia”.
It went viral on SAD pages on Facebook and congratulations flew in groups on messaging application WhatsApp too.
But it was all quite pointless, for now.