The confessional statements of Maninder Singh Bittu Aulakh and Jagjit Singh Chahal — now a part of the second chargesheet on the multi-crore drug racket filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the Patiala court on March 2 — may land Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia in fresh trouble.
Reason: The ED is considering their damning disclosures — and that of Jagdish Bhola, the arrested kingpin of the multi-layered drug scandal — as “corroborating statements” hinting at Majithia’s alleged complicity in the murky drug deals. The ED is probing the money-laundering trail in the politically sensitive scandal that has set off fresh tremors in Punjab politics.
HT reported on Tuesday that Chahal, an Amritsar-based pharma owner facing charges in the synthetic drug racket, had told the ED in a signed statement that he had paid `35 lakh as “election fund” to Majithia. The second accused, Bittu Aulakh, an Amritsar-based businessman, revealed Majithia’s connections with three non-resident Indians (NRIs) wanted by Punjab Police that busted the racket two years ago with the arrest of Bhola.
BHOLA SPILLEDTHE BEANS
Bhola was the first to drop the bombshell when he named Majithia in the drug scandal — a charge stoutly denied by the high-profile Akali minister.
Now, the ED is reportedly connecting the dots of revelations made by Bhola, Chahal and Aulakh as “corroborating statements” against Majithia — a development that exposes him to the heat from the central investigating agency that reports to Union finance minister Arun Jaitley.
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“The charges against the minister have been levelled by three accused questioned at different stages and all are corroborating. What one has alleged is being established by the other,” a senior ED official told HT on the condition of anonymity. The agency cannot afford to ignore investigating Majithia’s role, since now all documents of confession are part of the legal proceedings and there will be the pressure of the court,” he said.
ED likely to summon Akali minister
The ED is likely to again question Majithia on the serious charges levelled by Chahal and Aulakh, his one-time confidants. Earlier, he was summoned on December 26 last year.
March 12 is going to be an important day in this case, for the Punjab and Haryana high court is expected to pronounce its verdict on a plea relating to the stay on the transfer of Jalandhar-posted ED assistant director Niranjan Singh, who is the investigating officer in the high-profile drug case. Last week, the court directed the ED officials in Delhi to come out with the name of officials, who may replace Niranjan.
An analysis of the ED interrogation reports — as reported in HT on Tuesday — reveals that the investigating agency began acting tough on Majithia’s alleged role just a few days before Niranjan’s transfer to Kolkata that was later stayed by the high court. In his first questioning on August 6 last year, Bittu Aulakh was asked 19 questions, of which only three were on Majithia. But on January 12 and 13 this year, Aulakh was asked 22 questions, of which 14 were related to Majithia.
A damning piece in Bittu Aulakh’s statement is where he told the ED that “there was a dispute between three NRIs drug dealers — Satpreet Satta, Amaninder Laddi and Parminder Pindi — and pharma company owner Chahal over the supply of pseudoephedrine, a chemical used for illegal synthesis of narcotics, and the dispute was settled on Majithia’s instructions.”
Bajwa, Manpreet want minister dismissed
Chandigarh: With fresh evidence surfacing in the synthetic drug racket case, Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa and People’s Party of Punjab chief Manpreet Singh Badal have demanded the dismissal of state revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia and asked for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the case.
Bajwa said on Tuesday that the basic issue now was Majithia’s name appearing in the chargesheet filed by the enforcement directorate (ED) in a Patiala court on March 3. The chargesheet included the confessional statement of one of the accused, Jagjit Singh Chahal, stating that he had paid `35 lakh to the minister, what had been categorised as election funds deposited between 2007 and 2012. Chahal claimed that the money was paid to Majithia himself in instlalments at his Amritsar residence.
Bajwa also referred to the disclosures made by the another accused Manjinder Singh Bittu Aulakh stating that it was Majithia who had introduced him to NRI Satpreet Singh alias Satta who, along with two other NRIs, was a part of the racket. PPP chief Manpreet Singh Badal said: “Earlier, alleged drug smuggler Jagdish Bhola had only mentioned Majithia’s name while talking to journalists at a Mohali court. However, Chahal has given in writing that he handed over `35 lakh to Majithia. He called upon the chief minister to dismiss Majithia now and re-induct him if he emerged clean later.