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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Bikram Singh Majithia appears in viral photos; uncertain when they were taken

The government of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi was attacked for failing to arrest Majithia, and police officers appeared divided over whether the photos were new or old.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
Updated: January 3, 2022 7:12:38 am
Bikram Singh Majithia in a photo posted by Youth Akali Dal on Facebook. (Express)

Almost a fortnight after Bikram Singh Majithia was booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, photos purportedly of the former minister paying obeisance at the Golden Temple went viral on social media on Sunday, triggering a political storm in Punjab.

The government of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi was attacked for failing to arrest Majithia, and police officers appeared divided over whether the photos were new or old.

A senior Punjab Police officer said that the photos “appear to be genuine and recent”, and “it was most likely that Majithia went to the Golden Temple”.

According to this officer, “Majithia wants to maintain his strongman image”, and hence, “photos of his visit to the Golden Temple have been put on social media”.

Nachhatar Singh, chief of the information technology wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal, said Majithia had gone to the Golden Temple on the
intervening night of December 31 and January 1 at about 1 am, an hour-and-a-half before party president Sukhbir Badal and other members of the family visited the shrine, a New Year practice of the Badal family.

Another senior Punjab Police officer, however, said the photos were “old”, and evidence for which could be seen in them.

“As per the information gathered by us, Majithia’s photos include his visits to Gurdwara Gurbaksh Singh in the Golden Temple premises and Dukhbanjhani beri. The photos are claimed to have been clicked on January 1 night. But the carpet in Gurdwara Gurbaksh Singh was of
different colour on January 1, and not of the colour that is seen in the photos,” the officer said.

“Also, the details in the photos at Dukhbanjani beri don’t match. The photos are old. Also, the beard of Majithia as seen in the photos is not as white as it has been of late,” the officer added.

The first officer, who argued that the photos were likely to be recent, however, said: “Majithia would not do anything that might backfire on him subsequently. He would not want to project old photos as recent ones, as it would dent his image among his supporters.”

Senior Akali leader Virsa Singh Valtoha too said that the photos of Majithia were “recent”. Earlier, “Majithia, along with the Badal family used to pay obeisance on New Year. But, in these photos, he is alone”, Valtoha said.

Punjab Police were learnt to have intensified raids after the photos were uploaded on the Facebook page of the Youth Akali Dal. A number of police teams are said to have visited various locations including Majithia’s house in Amritsar’s Green Avenue locality.

Majithia, who was booked in a drug case on the night of December 20, had approached Punjab and Haryana High Court after a court in Mohali rejected his plea for anticipatory bail. The Punjab and Haryana High Court will hear the case on January 5.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) co-incharge for Punjab and Delhi MLA Raghav Chadha on Sunday accused Chief Minister Channi of “deliberately not arresting” Majithia even after his photos surfaced online.

Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu too has been pressing for the arrest of Majithia, saying merely registering a case against the SAD leader was not enough.

SAD has called the case against Majithia “false”, and “political vendetta”.

A senior Punjab Police officer said the force was currently focused on the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Ferozepur on January 5.

“Everything is focused on the PM’s visit and on security arrangements in the backdrop of the Ludhiana court blast. That is of paramount importance right now,” the officer said.

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