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Bikram Singh Majithia booked in drugs case, Charanjit Singh Channi says ‘first step in justice’

Based on STF report given to HC in 2018, kept under wraps; FIR says court did not bar probe

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
Updated: December 22, 2021 1:53:41 am
SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia.(File)

Weeks ahead of the Assembly polls, the Punjab Police’s Bureau of Investigation (BOI) on Monday evening booked Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and former minister Bikram Singh Majithia in a drugs case.

Majithia was booked under Sections 25 (allowing premises, etc, to be used for commission of an offence), 27 A (financing illicit traffic and harbouring offenders) and 29 (abetment and criminal conspiracy) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

The brother-in-law of SAD president Sukhbir Badal, Majithia is a powerful figure in the party and wielded considerable clout in the previous Akali government. The Congress and other parties have long accused Majithia of links with the state drug racket, an allegation that both Majithia and SAD have denied.

The FIR was registered at the Punjab State Crime Police Station in Mohali, on the basis of a Special Task Force (STF) report in the drugs racket, submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2018 and since kept under wraps. The STF had taken into account the money laundering investigations carried out by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into eight drug cases in Punjab from the end of 2013 to 2016.

The FIR includes the STF report, in which STF chief Harpreet Sidhu notes, “As per the findings, prima facie there is sufficient evidence on record to further investigate the role of Bikram Singh Majithia as regards the allegations made in application under enquiry.” The FIR also says the court had not barred further investigations into the case, and includes legal opinion by Punjab Advocate General Deepinder Singh Patwalia.

Majithia is alleged to have an association with, and hosted, several accused in the drug racket. Of the 54 accused in the racket, 23 were convicted by a trial court in February 2019. One of them, Jagdish Singh Bhola, an Arjuna awardee, was sentenced to 12 years and dismissed as DSP. Majithia has denied the allegations.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi tweeted about the FIR, saying, “Those mothers who lost their son to drugs, those young boys and girls whose life got ruined due to drugs… Today the first step has been taken to give justice to all of them by registering an FIR against Majithia.”

Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been attacking own government over the issue, including Channi, wrote in a series of tweets: “After 5.5 Years of fight against Corrupt System run by Badal Family & Captain and delay of 4 years without action taken on ED & STF Report against Majithia. Finally now, after pushing for credible officers in positions of power and influence first step has been taken !!”

Amarinder Singh, who had to step down as chief minister amidst accusations of favouring the Akalis and not investigating the racket properly, slammed the Channi government over the Majithia case, calling it “wrong parcha”. “I know this matter, this FIR is in violation of the law, it’s sheer vendetta,” Amarinder, who has floated a separate party and announced an alliance with the BJP, said.

SAD, which has been holding protests claiming the Channi government was trying to “frame” Majithia, slammed the FIR. Akali patron and former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal called it “vendetta politics”, and asked why the Channi government had changed the state DGP twice in the past few days. The FIR was lodged on the directions of Siddharth Chattopadhyaya, who is currently officiating DGP.

Sukhbir accused the Congress government of doing “politics on issues of sacrilege and drug”, and said Chattopadhyaya had been “used by Captain Amarinder Singh in cases against the Badal family”.

Senior Akali leaders Prem Singh Chandumajra, Maheshinder Singh Grewal and Daljit Singh Cheema asked how the Congress government had reproduced in the FIR against Majithia “a report which is lying in a sealed envelope in the high court”.

Grewal asked the state government to disclose the contents of another report by a panel including the DGP “which superseded the report of the STF and was also lying in a sealed envelope in the high court”.

The Aam Aadmi Party repeated its allegation of “collusion” between the Channi government and SAD, claiming a weak case had been registered against Majithia so that he could get bail “the next day”. AAP leader Raghav Chadha described Channi as a “stuntman”, questioning the timing of the FIR ahead of the elections.

In a related matter, on Monday, the Punjab Police registered a case over the “leak” of a note purportedly written by Bureau of Investigation Director S K Asthana to then officiating Punjab DGP Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota, expressing his inability to register a case against Majithia as the STF report was with the High Court and the case was sub-judice. Since he sent the note, Asthana has been on medical leave.

Sidhu said Tuesday that justice will not be served “until main culprits behind Drug Mafia are given exemplary punishment”. “This is merely a first step.”

He added that he had been asking about the STF report for four years. “It is a slap on the face of all those powerful who slept for years on issues at the heart of Punjab’s soul.”

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