M A I N   N E W S

Top Cong, SAD leaders got money from Gaba family, says drug diary
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh/Jalandhar, October 7
The contents of a diary of Goraya-based businessman Chuni Lal Gaba's family has created ripples in political circles of Punjab with names of the ruling SAD-BJP combine and Congress leaders surfacing as "recipients" of money from the Gaba family.

The diary, in possession of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), has indicated Punjab Chief Parliamentary Secretary (CPS) and SAD MLA from Phillaur Avinash Chander, senior Congress leader and Jalandhar MP Chaudhary Santokh Singh and former SAD minister Sarvan Singh Phillaur are among several bureaucrats, politicians and police officers who had allegedly received money from the Gaba family.

The three leaders have denied "business links" with the Gaba family, which courted controversy after it was linked with the Rs 6,000 crore drug racket.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned Avinash Chander, Sarwan Singh Phillaur and Chaudhary Santokh Singh under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Avinash Chander and Sarwan Singh Phillaur have been asked to appear before the ED on October 17 and Santokh Singh Chaudhary has been told to explain his position on October 13.

Avinash Chander said he had "nothing to do" with Gaba's son Gurjit Gaba and their "drug business". Chaudhary Santokh Singh claimed the Gaba family had been opposing him in elections since 1997. "How can my name be there in the diary? It seems to be a mischief played by someone," said Chaudhary.

Sarwan Singh Phillaur also denied receiving money from the Gabas, but said he had old relations with the family. "I have received summons and will give a reply to the ED," he said.

The diary has been a bone of contention between the Income Tax Department and the ED for months and was handed over to the ED by the IT Department in May following directions by the Patiala-based PMLA court.

The diary was seized by the IT Department during its February 16 raids on Gaba's Goraya-based premises following which the Gabas had surrendered Rs 16 crore to the IT Department. The diary, it is learnt, has names of over 300 persons.

Sources said when the ED received the diary, it found names deleted from six-seven pages. The ED has already sent these pages to the Chandigarh-based forensic lab for examination.

An entry in the diary indicated that Rs 12 lakh was paid to Sarwan Singh Phillaur, Rs 48 lakh to CPS Avinash Chander. Money was also paid to MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary.

Former NRI Sabha president and Jalandhar-based hotelier Kamaljit Singh Hayre was paid Rs 50 lakh. He, however, denied his involvement or any business links with the Gabas.

Sources said the Gabas paid a paltry sum of Rs 60-70 lakh as penalty on Rs 16 crore surrendered by them to the IT Department. The tax amount on the surrendered money turned out to be around Rs 4.80 crore. "They have not been summoned by the IT Department so far," said an official.

The Gabas and the Phillaur family courted trouble when suspended Punjab Police DSP-turned drug lord Jagdish Bhola told ED that Phillaur's son Damanbir Singh had introduced Gaba to Delhi-based synthetic drug smuggler Varinder, alias Raja, who, was in jail. Bhola had accused Gaba of supplying pseudoephedrine to Raja.

The Gabas also owned a drug unit in Baddi in Himachal Pradesh. 

Rs 6,000 cr racket

* ED summons CPS Avinash Chander, Jalandhar MP Santokh Chaudhary and former minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur

* An entry in the diary indicated Rs 12 lakh was paid to Sarwan Singh Phillaur and Rs 48 lakh to CPS Avinash Chander

* Money was also paid to MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary

* The Gaba family courted controversy after it was linked with the ~6,000 crore drug racket in Punjab.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |