SIT probing political links to illicit liquor unit in Punjab’s Badal village draws a blank

On May 22 this year, a team of the state excise department had raided an orchard at Badal village. A large quantity of Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA), raw material for liquor, thousands of filled and empty bottles, fake holograms, caps, cartons and labels of major brands of Indian Made Foreign Liquor and country-made liquor was recovered
An illicit liquor unit being destroyed. (HT FILE PHOTO)
An illicit liquor unit being destroyed. (HT FILE PHOTO)
Published on Sep 02, 2021 08:41 PM IST
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By Vishal Joshi

Bathinda Two months after former Muktsar senior superintendent of police (SSP) D Sudarvizhi formed a three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into alleged political patronage to an illegal liquor bottling unit at Badal village, no headway has been made in the case.

Badal village is the native place of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and state finance minister Manpreet Badal.

A senior politician owns a huge chunk of land in the area, and this was also a point of reference to investigate for the SIT.

On May 22, a team of the state excise department that joint commissioner Naresh Dubey led had raided an orchard at Badal village. A large quantity of Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA), raw material for liquor, thousands of filled and empty bottles, fake holograms, caps, cartons and labels of major brands of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) and country-made liquor of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Daman and Diu were seized in this raid. Three persons were arrested from the spot on May 22 while the role of two other suspects is still being verified, he added.

The SIT was formed after allegations surfaced that the operators of the improvised plant had a political connection. Three persons namely Anand Sharma of Hardwar, Pargat Singh and Jashan Singh of Muktsar were arrested from the spot.

“The role of two other suspects is still being verified,” new Muktsar SSP Charanjit Singh Sohal said, adding that he had directed the SIT head Kulwant Rai, SP (investigation) to expedite the verification/checking of land details.

Sohal added that the role of a politically influential person remains a point of scrutiny that had not been ruled out yet. “An authorised factory is located less than 500m from the illicit unit. An investigation shows that the legal unit was non-functional since January this year, due to administrative reasons. The operation of the improvised unit is being probed from all angles,” he added.

“The excise department conducted a raid, and as per protocol, they submitted details to the local police. We are trying to find a suspect, Raja, who the excise department had named as a suspect. We plan to include an official from the excise department in the SIT to conclude the investigation objectively,” SIT head Rai said.

Excise joint commissioner Dubey said Muktsar police have recently filed a challan in court against the three accused; the department has not heard anything from the police since then.

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Friday, October 22, 2021