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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

ED officer Niranjan Singh who probed Bhola drug case quits

Niranjan, who was scheduled to retire in 2021, cited personal reasons for his decision to resign from service.

punjab Updated: Oct 06, 2018 09:36 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
ED officer Niranjan Singh.
ED officer Niranjan Singh.
         

Enforcement directorate (ED) deputy director Niranjan Singh, who was probing the high-profile multi-crore Bhola drug racket case and had also questioned Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and former revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, on Friday opted for voluntary retirement, three years before his term was to end.

Niranjan, who was posted in ED’s Punjab headquarters in Jalandhar, tendered his resignation to the national director of the central agency through Jalandhar ED office chief Girish Bali.

Considered a rabble-rouser, Niranjan cited “personal reasons” behind quitting the job and denied any “political pressure” on him. “I won’t share details of my resignation as it is between me and my department,” he said.

An ED official close to Niranjan said he was feeling “suffocated, upset and demoralised” ever since he started the probe into the Bhola drug racket.

Posted as ED assistant director at Jalandhar, Niranjan was made investigating officer in the multi-crore drug racket in 2014 and questioned Majithia on December 26, 2014, a few months after the drug lord and dismissed Punjab Police deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Jagdish Bhola named the Akali leader in the case. Two main accused in the case — Maninder Singh, alias Bittu Aulakh, and Amritsarbased businessman Jagjit Singh Chahal — had also named Majithia, who is brother of Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union minister and wife of Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Twenty days after he questioned Majithia, Niranjan was transferred to Kolkata on January 16, 2015. The Punjab and Haryana high court later revoked his transfer.

Despite pressure, Niranjan re-summoned Majithia in June 2016 to which the former minister had filed a written reply and did not appear in person.

Over 70 accused were chargesheeted, including Bhola, former Akali minister (who is now in Congress) Sarwan Singh Phillaur, his son Damanvir Singh, former Akali MLA Avinash Chandar, Bittu Aulakh and Chahal, during the four-year period of the probe in the case.