In a classic flipflop, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday first ordered an inquiry to ascertain the alleged role of chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) and SAD MLA from Phillaur Avinash Chander in the drug racket case, but later withdrew it within minutes.
It all happened at the press conference addressed by the CM at a hospital, where he was to inspect a drug de-addiction centre run by the district health administration. When a journalist asked Badal about “big fish” involved in drug cases — citing how CPS Chander’s trusted aides have been quizzed and even arrested by the police under the NDPS Act — the CM said the newly constituted State Narcotics Control Bureau headed by inspector general of police (IGP) Ishwar Singh “is supervising the entire probe in the drug racket, and whosoever is guilty will be put behind bar”.
When the CM was specifically asked why the government was going soft on the CPS — whose name has also appeared in the controversial diary recovered from Goraya-based industrialist Chunni Lal Gaba with 18 payment entries worth Rs. 1.5 crore — the CM announced, “NCB head will probe the role of the CPS in the episode.”
However, after the media interaction, when the CM was to board the official car, sensing the seriousness of his announcement he again called a few journalists and said: “I clarify that there is no need of conducting a different probe, as the Patiala SSP (Hardyal Singh Mann) is already on the job. After completing the inquiry, he will submit the report to me. And if anybody is found guilty, we will see.”
The SAD had already made Kartarpur MLA and senior leader Sarwan Singh Phillaur resign from the cabinet after his son Damanvir Singh’s name came up in drug racket busted last year with the arrest of former cop Jagdish Bhola. But the party is mum over the issue of CPS, whose aide Manjeet Singh Billa, also a district vice-president of the Youth Akali Dal, was arrested on June 13 with 110 gm ‘chitta’ (chemical drug).