M A I N   N E W S

Son named in drug probe, Punjab minister resigns
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Sarwan Singh Phillaur
Sarwan Singh Phillaur

Chandigarh, May 22
Punjab Jails Minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur today resigned from the state Cabinet "on moral grounds" following recent reports of the alleged involvement of his son Damanvir Singh in the Rs 6,000-crore synthetic drug racket.

The six-time Akali MLA (currently representing Kartarpur) was reportedly summoned to Delhi yesterday by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who "advised" him to resign. Phillaur submitted his resignation last night itself.

Deputy Chief Minister and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said Phillaur had resigned on “moral grounds”, saying he would like to opt out as a minister till his and his son’s name was cleared in the drug investigation. “The Chief Minister has accepted his resignation and will be sending it to the Governor,” said Sukhbir.

Phillaur’s is the first head to roll after arrested drug kingpin Jagdish Singh Bhola alleged links with several politicians in the Akali-BJP government and even claimed to have funded their campaign in the last election.

The problem of massive drug addiction in Punjab and illicit drug trade, allegedly under the patronage of some Akali ministers, was one of the vital issues during the Lok Sabha election. It had fuelled anti-incumbency against the ruling alliance, with voters rejecting its candidates for its failure to check drugs.

Despite the massive “Modi wave”, the Akali vote share fell from 33.85 per cent in 2009 to 26.3 per cent. Compared to the 2012 Assembly election, the party vote share went down from 34.73 per cent to 26.3 per cent.

Talking to The Tribune, Phillaur, a Badal confidant, said he had resigned because he did not want a bad name to come to his party. “I have resigned taking moral responsibility. Till the time my son’s name is cleared (in the drug racket), I don’t want the party to be dragged into the controversy. Once we get the third summons from the ED, my son will appear before them and answer all queries,” he said. The third summons are expected to be issued soon, sources in the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said.

The ED summoned Phillaur’s son Damanvir Singh twice for questioning in the synthetic drug racket, but he did not show up. 

Joining the dots

The names of Damanvir, son of Punjab Jails Minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur (in pic), and his aide Chunni Lal Gaba cropped up during the interrogation of alleged drug lord Jagdish Bhola

Bhola reportedly said Damanvir introduced Delhi-based synthetic drug supplier Varinder ‘Raja’ (currently in Patiala jail) to Gaba, who owns a pharma unit in Baddi

Gaba allegedly supplied pseudoephedrine (used to make ICE) to Raja, who supplied the synthetic drugs to his partners in Canada





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