Amid clamour for action in Punjab drug cases, ADGP Asthana proceeds on leave

Asthana was posted as BoI chief a fortnight ago, replacing ADGP Varinder Kumar, apparently to initiate the process to arrest a high-profile Shiromani Akali Dal politician. Pressure is mounting on the Charanjit Singh Channi-led Congress government in Punjab to take action in drug cases
A section of the ruling Congress led by its party chief in Punjab Navjot Sidhu has lately stepped up pressure on Channi to act on the drug and sacrilege cases to fulfil the promises the party had made ahead of 2017 assembly polls. Asthana was posted as BoI chief a fortnight ago. (HT photo)
A section of the ruling Congress led by its party chief in Punjab Navjot Sidhu has lately stepped up pressure on Channi to act on the drug and sacrilege cases to fulfil the promises the party had made ahead of 2017 assembly polls. Asthana was posted as BoI chief a fortnight ago. (HT photo)
Published on Dec 12, 2021 01:57 AM IST
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By, Chandigarh

In a significant development, Punjab additional director general of police and head of Bureau of Investigation SK Asthana on Saturday proceeded on two-day leave amid reports of pressure on the Charanjit Singh Channi-led Congress government to take action on the politically sensitive drug cases.

Asthana was posted as BoI chief a fortnight ago, replacing ADGP Varinder Kumar, apparently to initiate the process to arrest a high-profile Shiromani Akali Dal politician.

In his leave application to DGP, seen by HT, Asthana said that he had medical emergency with severe atrial fibrillation of heart leading to abnormal heart rhythm and heart rate.

“I have been advised by the doctor to be on complete medical rest for next 48-hours” he said, seeking exemption from his scheduled meeting with chief minister on Saturday morning.

A section of the ruling Congress led by state party chief Navjot Sidhu has lately stepped up pressure on Channi to act on the drug and sacrilege cases to fulfil the promises the party had made ahead of 2017 assembly polls.

Before Kumar’s short stint, Arpit Shukla was moved out as BOI head. “Both officials replaced before Asthana had expressed their inability to take action against a former Akali minister stating that there was nothing concrete against him on official files,” said a senior official familiar with developments.

Asthana, when contacted, attributed his two-day leave to medical emergency. “I don’t know what pressure you are talking about. I have faced many a political pressure in my career but the exact reason behind my application is my serious ailment,” he told HT.

Senior officials privy to the developments said the BoI has been under immense pressure from the government to take action against a former Akali minister after officials of special task force (STF) on drugs had expressed their inability to book any high-profile person till its 2018 drug report, lying in sealed cover with the Punjab and Haryana high court, is not opened.

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