Chandigarh, September 28
Punjab Congress leaders Thursday slammed the AAP government for arresting MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira in a 2015 drugs case, asking if it was the politics of "badlav" (change) promised by the party.
A Congress delegation also met the Punjab governor and sought his intervention in the matter.
Called on Honourable Governor Banwari Lal Purohit ji along with PCC President @RajaBrar_INC and Punjab Congress leaders. Apprised him of how CM Bhagwant Mann led AAP Govt is unleashing vendetta against our MLA @SukhpalKhaira . Requested for his intervention in this regard. pic.twitter.com/TGNeRFHD3x— Partap Singh Bajwa (@Partap_Sbajwa) September 28, 2023
Several senior Congress leaders, including Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa and former chief ministers Charanjit Singh Channi and Rajinder Kaur Bhathal, fully backed Khaira and hit out at the AAP government for indulging in political vendetta.
Speaking to reporters, Warring said, "We apprised the governor about the events which unfolded today." He claimed that Khaira had been arrested in a "false" case and alleged "jungle raj" prevailed in Punjab.
Khaira also received support from senior Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia who criticised the police action against the Bholath legislator.
"I strongly condemn the manner in which Khaira was arrested today," Majithia said.
Congress MLA Khaira was arrested and later sent to two-day police remand in connection with the 2015 drugs case.
He was arrested after a Punjab Police team led by Superintendent of Police Manjeet Singh which raided the Chandigarh residence of the Bholath legislator around 6 am.
Khaira was arrested on the basis of an investigation conducted by a special investigation team led by Deputy Inspector General of Police Swapan Sharma.
Following the police action, senior Congress leaders including Bajwa, former ministers Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Pargat Singh and Bharat Bhushan Ashu, MLAs Vikramjit Singh Chaudhary, Raj Kumar Chhabewal, and others held a meeting to discuss the party's future course of action in this case.
Later, a delegation of the state Congress leadership Thursday evening called on Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit, seeking his intervention in the matter.
"Without any facts, Khaira was involved in an eight-year old case by the present dispensation,” said Warring, adding that the special investigation team, which was formed in the matter, never summoned Khaira and arrested him.
"There was no arrest warrant, neither Chandigarh police was informed when Punjab Police came to take him into custody,” he said.
"We are not going to sit silent and we will fight this battle,” said Warring.
Replying to a question, Warring said, "You talk repeatedly of the INDIA alliance...I have said that we have put the entire thing before the high command. (Congress chief Mallikarjun) Kharge saheb has said that nothing will be done without your (Punjab Congress unit's) consent." "Issue today is that Khaira saheb has been arrested without any reason. The entire Congress is with him in this and we will fight till the end. We may be arrested or put behind bars, but we will fight," Warring said.
The Congress and the AAP are part of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) but have been at loggerheads with each other over various issues in Delhi and Punjab where the Arvind Kejriwal-led party is in power.
Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa also hit out at the Bhagwant Mann government over Khaira's arrest.
"The way Punjab Police forced their way into his home in Chandigarh in the early morning hours and went to his bedroom...this is highly condemnable. He kept asking them to show the arrest warrant,” said Bajwa.
Bajwa said that being the Punjab governor and the administrator of the Union Territory of Chandigarh, Purohit should ask the Punjab Police chief whether Chandigarh Police were informed about Khaira's arrest as informing local police is mandatory.
He said a kidnapping case should be registered against the police contingent in this matter which came to arrest Khaira without informing their Chandigarh counterparts.
"We condemn the incident," he said.
"Is this politics of 'badlav' (change) they had promised," asked Bajwa.
Does Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann think that the voice of Congress can be suppressed with such things, he said, adding "any immoral act or any act of omission or commission which this government will do we will strongly raise our voice against it." "We fully back our colleague and from workers to top leaders, we are behind him," Bajwa said.
Mann should not be under any false impression that he is going to rule forever and the results of such actions are never good, he said.
Former chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi said Khaira was arrested as he used to speak against the AAP government over various issues.
He accused the Mann dispensation of trying to murder freedom of speech as he condemned the government for arresting the Bholath MLA.
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