Punjab Revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia was patronising the multibillion dollar international drug cartel in Punjab, this was claimed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday.
The claim was made in a press conference in Press conference addressed by AAP leaders Ashish Khetan and Sanjay Singh. Duo presented some documents, claiming to be pertaining to the investigation carried by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Khetan revealed Majithia provided Punjab police gunmen, official cars, personal residence and political patronage to facilitate the movement of drug smugglers within Punjab, as per the ED evidence.
Khetan while presenting the documents to the media said several accused named Majithia as a link between local smugglers and international cartels.
He said ED records showed that drugs worth thousands of crores were both smuggled in and out of Punjab by cartels linked to Majithia.
Punjab police obliterated evidence linking the arrested drug smugglers with the revenue minister who is also the brother-in-law of Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Majithia’s mention was omitted from the statements of the drug smugglers recorded by Punjab Police, said Khetan while adding that the same smugglers narrated Majithia’s role in detail while recording their statements before ED.
The documents, Ashish Khetan claimed, were part of investigation by ED but attempt was being made to not to allow the evidence to surface.
Khetan said the evidence also showed that Majithia linked cartel came into operation in 2007 soon after the Badals came into power in Punjab. Since 2007 Majithia has been holding multiple and high-profile portfolios in the Badal government.
He added that ED records mention that thousands of crores of cash was generated through drug smuggling cartels linked to Majithia. Evidence suggests that some of this was funneled in businesses and properties both in India and abroad. The accused have told ED that Majthia was also running liquor distilleries and sand mining business in benami names.
Majithia has made multiple trips to Canada, US and Europe over the last ten years and at least three smugglers linked to Majithia were based out of India, revealed Khetan.
Aam Aadmi Party released six statements of three drug smugglers recorded on different dates by ED under section 25 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 stating that as per law these statements were admissible in court.
ED reports to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Majithia was the chief organiser of Jaitley’s election campaign during 2014 Lok Sabha polls in Amritsar.
Khetan said that the ED probe officer was transferred 20 days after he summoned Majithia to investigate his role in drug trade. The transfer was subsequently stayed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Khetan said SAD is a close ally of BJP and part of NDA government at the Centre. BJP is also part of SAD government in Punjab. Majithia’s sister Harsimrat Kaur Badal is a minister in Modi government.
Maninder Singh Aulakh, an alleged smuggler charged under NDPS and PMLA act, stated in his statement dated January 12,15 that the drug businesses were carried out with full knowledge of Majithia.
Jagjit Singh Chahal, another alleged smuggler and Aulakh have linked Majithia with three Canada based smugglers of Indian origin. Their names are Satpreet Singh Satta, Amarinder Singh Laddi and Parminder Singh Pindi. All three are currently wanted by ED and Punjab Police. Red Corner Notices were issued against Laddi and Pindi in September, 2015, Khetan claimed.
He further said that another international drug smuggler named Jagdish Singh Bhola had also named Majithia as being involved in drug trade.
In their statements to ED, Bhola and Aulakh have narrated an instance where a dispute arose out of the supply of inferior quality of synthetic drugs by local manufacturers to Majithia’s associates. Upon Majithia’s intervention the dispute was finally settled and the money was returned, Khetan said.
AAP said though strong evidence came up several times against Majithia during the course of investigations in the multi crore drug racket but ED and Punjab Police have failed to act against him and take the case to its logical end.
AAP also questioned why Majithia’s properties have not been attached while the ED and Punjab Police have more substantial evidence against him than 104 similar cases involved in the drug smuggling.
Khetan said the ED evidence showed how Majithia provided patronage and protection to several international drug smugglers who used his (Majithia)’s residence in Amritsar as base for drug smuggling.
Khetan said when AAP would form the government in Punjab it would surely send Majithia to jail on the basis of evidence it has gathered from the various investigating agencies. “From now onwards the countdown begins for Majithia to go to jail”, said Khetan adding that only an honest government like that of AAP can probe the drug smuggling racket in Punjab with utmost sincerity and take on high and mighty involved in the same.
Since March 2014, ED has filed four chargesheets against 50 odd drug smugglers. But there is pressure not to charge Majithia and soft peddle the whole probe, Khetan said.
The drug racket operating in the state of Punjab and having national and international ramifications was first busted when multiple FIRs under NDPS, IPC and Arms Act were registered by the Punjab Police in the year 2013 and 2014.
The police action had come in the wake of all round criticism of the failure of the Badal government in checking the floroushing drug industry in Punjab. Consequent to that, the Enforcement Directorate also registered its case Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) No. 02/JLZO/2013 dated March 25, 2013 under the provisions of PMLA, 2002 incorporating all the FIRs connected with the case.
As on date, 8 FIRs have been included in the abovesaid case ECIR for the purpose of investigation under the provisions of PMLA. In these 8 FIRs registered by the police, the Punjab police has charge sheeted 104 accused persons which are pending trial.
During investigation, statements of a number of accused persons as well as witnesses have been recorded and several documents from different agencies / authorities have also been collected. The investigation has revealed the names of a number of associates (including NRIs) of the accused who appear to be involved in the offence of money laundering arising from the proceeds of crime generated from the crime of drugs trafficking. The total number of accused and associates in the case registered with ED is exceeding more than 120 now.
The investigation conducted so far has revealed that sale of said Narcotics Drugs by the accused and the associates inside and outside the country had resulted in generation of substantial proceeds of crime which had invariably been parked in movable and immovable assets.
Ashish Khetan and Sanjay Singh were accompanied by Himmat Singh Shergill, Aman Arora, CD Kamboj and RR Bhardwaj.
Even though during the past also, such allegations were leveled against Majithia but Khetan said that for the first time any such evidence has come in public domain.
News Broadcast Factory could not reach the ED officials for the comments on AAP party claim on documents being part of ED investigation.
Later in the day, Shiromani Akali Dal held a press conference to negate the allegations. SAD senior leader Maheshinder Singh Grewal said that AAP was indulging in dirty politics. Accompanied by Education Minister, Dr. Daljeet Singh Cheema, Grewal said all the allegations have appeared in the media and heard by the court. “Recycling the same allegations by taking them out of dustbin and trying to defame the SAD speaks of deceitful behavior of AAP, which is now trying to fool the people in the same way as done by Congress earlier,” they said.
Senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh criticised Punjab Pradesh Congress Chief Captain Amarinder Singh for going out of his way to defend Bikram Singh Majithia and vehemently opposing the CBI probe against the Punjab revenue minister for his drug smuggling links. Sanjay Singh added that it showed collusion between Akalis and Congress leaders was complete on drug smuggling in Punjab.