HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Drug peddling: Youth Akali leader in cop net

Ravinder Vasudeva and Jatinder Kohli, Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, June 04, 2014
First Published: 09:58 IST(4/6/2014) | Last Updated: 10:03 IST(4/6/2014)

In a development that brews further trouble for the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the Jalandhar-rural police on Monday night rounded up its youth wing leader Gurmail Singh, alias Bhola Haripuria, and were interrogating him for suspected involvement in drug peddling.

Gurmail, a senior vice-president of the Youth Akali Dal, is a key aide and fundraiser of SAD’s Phillaur legislator and chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Avinash Chander, who described him as a “dedicated soldier of the SAD”.

Sources said on Tuesday that Gurmail was still being interrogated by senior superintendent of police (SSP) Narinder Bhargav at an undisclosed location. Even junior officers were not aware of the place till the filing of this report around 9.30pm.

Gurmail’s name has earlier cropped up for illegal sand mining in Phillaur region along the river Sutlej.

The detention comes as part of heightened police action against the drug menace after the SAD-BJP fared relatively poorly in the Lok Sabha elections, in which the drug problem emerged as a major issue.

It is learnt that the police raided Gurmail’s house around 2:15am on Monday night and took him first to the local police station, where some SAD workers gathered to press for his release, and then to an undisclosed place.

CPS Avinash Chander confirmed the events and that the police were not disclosing the whereabouts of his aide. “Gurmail is a dedicated soldier of the SAD, and is not involved in any drug peddling. I have talked to the SSP, who refused to give me any information about his whereabouts. He just said he would let me know later,” Chander told HT.

Gurmail is also a close friend of Goraya-based industrialist Chunni Lal Gaba and his son Gurmesh Gaba, whose names have come up in drug peddling.

Many in the SAD said Gurmail and his mentor Avinash Chander were the reason why the SAD trailed badly in the Phillaur assembly segment of Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat in the recent elections.

Residents said he reigned in the area due to the backing of Avinash Chander and also by taking the name of a minister related to the Badals.

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