Chandigarh, September 28
Punjab Congress MLA from Bholath Sukhpal Khaira was on Thursday arrested in connection with a 2015 drugs case from his Sector 5 house in Chandigarh.
Later in the day, Fazlika's Jalalabad court sent Khaira to police custody till September 30.
In the morning, a Punjab Police team led by Superintendent of Police Manjeet Singh raided the Chandigarh residence of Khaira around 6am.
However, the MLA's son went live on Facebook showing that a team of Punjab Police reached their residence to apprehend Khaira. In the video, Khaira could be seen arguing with the police team and asking them to show him the arrest warrant.
The Bholath legislator could also be seen asking for the identity of the police officers who were part of the raiding team.
He was told by the police officials that he was being arrested in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act case. When Khaira asked the team where he was being taken, a police official told him that he was being taken to Jalalabad in Fazilka.
According to official sources, a special investigation team led by Deputy Inspector General of Police Swapan Sharma was formed in April and Khaira was arrested based on its investigation into the 2015 case.
A police official identifying himself as DSP Achru Ram Sharma is seen in the video telling Khaira that a SIT had been formed formed in an old NDPS case, which had found evidence of drug smuggling against him.
Khaira said the Supreme Court had already quashed the NDPS case.
Khaira and the cops argued for several minutes before the cops arrested him and took him to Jalalabad.
Releasing a statement after his father’s arrest, advocate Mehtab Singh Khaira said: “Hello everyone. This is to inform you that my father Sukhpal Singh Khaira has been arrested by Punjab police on direct orders of CM Punjab in an 8 year old drugs case. This is the same case which was quashed by the Supreme Court of India. The police have bypassed all procedures and even an order of the Supreme Court to gag the voice of a strong and vociferous leader. My father has told me to inform everyone that he is not scared of any false implication and will fight for Punjab till the very end. Truth will prevail.”
❗️ Sukhpal Singh Khaira arrested!— Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) (@SAD_Amritsar) September 28, 2023
Political differences aside- Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar condemns the arrest borne out of the witch hunt and political vendetta against Bholath MLA and a very respected @SukhpalKhaira Ji a fierce critic of @BhagwantMann and @AAPPunjab led… pic.twitter.com/H00QbNDyWr
Slamming the Bhagwant Mann government, the Congress MLA, who has been critical of the AAP government on various issues, claimed that he was being apprehended in a "false" case and that "jungle raj" prevailed in the state.
Punjab Congress hits out at AAP Government
Meanwhile, the Punjab Congress hit out at the AAP Government, accusing it of indulging in political vendetta.
Congress state unit chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring and Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa condemned the arrest. Warring visited the residence of Khaira after his arrest and met his son Mehtab Khaira and other family members.
He said they stood by the Bholath MLA. The Punjab Congress chief questioned the police action, asking what kind of probe was conducted by the Punjab police which led to Khaira's arrest after eight years. "It shows that 'jungle raj' is prevailing in the state," Warring said and questioned the absence of Chandigarh Police during the Punjab Police action.
In a post on X, Warring said, "The recent arrest of MLA Sukhpal Khaira ji smacks of political vendetta. It is an attempt to intimidate the opposition and is a ploy of the AAP government in Punjab to distract (people) from core issues. We stand strongly with Sukhpal Khaira and will take this fight to its logical conclusion."
Bajwa said, "The arrest is extremely deplorable. The AAP government in Punjab has stooped to an all-time low and resorted to vendetta politics. Khaira has been outspoken and raised his voice against the wrongdoings and irregularities committed by the Bhagwant Mann government."
"The Punjab Congress under the ambit of law will leave no stone unturned to get him released," he added.
No vendetta politics, says AAP
AAP’s Punjab unit chief spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang, however, said, “There is no political vendetta in this matter. We are going by the law.”
In 2022, the Supreme Court had given relief to Sukhpal Khaira, but the court had said that the Punjab Police can re-investigate the case, Kang said.
He informed the media that an SIT of the Punjab Police was formed in April 2023, which carried out an investigation into the matter and discovered some new facts in the case.
“Khaira was found to be involved in drug smuggling and that is why he was arrested by the Punjab Police today. There is zero tolerance against drugs,” Kang added.
The drugs case was registered in March 2015 at Jalalabad in Fazilka. Nine people, including Gurdev Singh who was allegedly a close aide of Khaira, were booked in the case and later convicted under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
Police had recovered two kg of heroin, 24 gold biscuits, one country-made pistol, a .315-bore pistol and two Pakistani SIM cards from them. Khaira’s name cropped up later during the police probe.
However, in 2017, the Supreme Court stayed the trial court proceedings against Khaira who was summoned as an additional accused in the matter. He was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in 2021 on the charge of money laundering linked to the 2015 drug case. He was granted bail in 2022. In February 2023, the apex court quashed the summoning order against Khaira in the 2015 drugs case. —with PTI inputs
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