The opposition on Friday attacked ruling Haryana government, especially Home Minister Anil Vij while accusing government of inadequate action taken in the alleged liquor smuggling scam in which over 1.2 crore bottles of liquor were smuggled across Haryana during lockdown period.
Demanding a CBI probe, INLD’s Abhay Chautala slammed the ruling government and also raised questions that why CM Manohar Lal Khattar constituted a Special Enquiry Team while Home Minister Anil Vij had initially recommended a Special Investigation Team to probe the liquor smuggling scandal worth crores of rupees.
“At least 1.2 crore liquor bottles were smuggled. It happened during the lockdown period, when only police was present on the roads. Does that mean that government had completely failed? When not even one person could go from one village to another, how could liquor be smuggled at such a large scale? There was no dearth of liquor in any part of Haryana. A bottle worth Rs 100 bottle was sold for Rs 500. You say that FIR was registered, but where is the recovery? How much money has government recovered so far? On March 24, 2020 – lockdown was imposed. Excise Department issued 96 permits and 30 gate passes after that when everything was shut. Liquor distilleries were only allowed to manufacture sanitisers. Why didn’t the government take action against those who were guilty on the basis of the SET’s report? Why no action was taken against the distilleries from where smuggling took place? Was the police sleeping? Why did not police or excise department do anything? Rather, they patronised the liquor mafia. A mafia cannot erupt without the government’s protection,” Abhay Chautala said while speaking on his Calling Attention Motion on the issue.
Demanding stern action in the matter, Abhay asked the CM, “If you are not biased, the entire House wants that liquor smuggling should also be probed by CBI. If you want to end corruption in Haryana, the government should announce that the case shall be probed from CBI”.
Accusing the state government of not taking adequate action on corrupt officials, Abhay cited a case. “This morning, driver of your former minister Om Prakash Dhankar came to me and told me that a Tehsildar in Sonipat was asking him a bribe of Rs 160 per square feet to register his land in his name. This is the level of corruption in the government. What action have you taken against that Tehsildar?”
“I would reiterate that the liquor smuggling case must be got investigated by CBI. So that, at least nobody can accuse Manohar Lal Khattar saying that he surrendered to let corruption flourish in the state,” Abhay added.
Congress leader Kiran Choudhry too raised questions on why the SIT was not constituted. Quoting one of the reports published in The Indian Express on liquor smuggling scam, Kiran Choudhry read out the news report’s contents and asked the state government to inform whether any conclusive action was yet taken against the erring officials.
She also cited various challans issued in liquor smuggling cases during checking drives conducted by CM’s flying squad in the month of October.
“When the government is already facing huge cash crunch, why hasn’t the Excise Department initiated recovery of corona cess and excise duty from these people? According to the Excise policy, such people should not be issued permits, but it is unfortunate that all these people were again issued permits. This clearly shows that high rank officials are involved. I too demand a CBI probe should be ordered in this liquor smuggling scandal. Vigilance probe will only be an eyewash”.
Congress legislator Surender Panwar demanded a compensation of Rs 25 lakh each for the family of those who died by drinking the spurious liquor in Sonipat and other districts of Haryana in the last three days.
Oppn accuses CID wing of tapping their phones, surveillance
Demanding the probe by a sitting HC judge in the liquor smuggling scandal, Shamsher Singh Gogi, Congress MLA from Assandh, said, “During lockdown, even if a person was found walking, he was challaned. Only police was present on the roads. And CID wing who only keeps tracing opposition’s MLAs locations these days, keeps asking people that in which village they have gone. Do we sell liquor that they are chasing us? But, in such a time, trucks full of liquor were smuggled. Didn’t CID give a report on this to CMO? If they did, then at whose behest that report was buried. It means that CMO is also involved in this scandal. And CID and police officers are also involved”.
I had said it one day when we were celebrating Constitution Day that “Jis din is desh ka satyanaash karenge, hum chune hue numayende hi karenge”.
Vij attacked over his ‘tough image’
Taking on Anil Vij, Gogi added, “What does a SET mean? People used to see Anil Vij as a Shaktiman, who has snatched away all his powers? Now the probe has been given to Vigilance. It means throwing it in a well. SET officials said that Excise department did not even share the record. When our party will come to power, I can assure that this liquor scandal will be probed thoroughly”.
Talking about the hooch tragedy in Sonipat, Gogi added, “Who are these children who died? They are our children. If we had even a bit of shame, in the last 24 hours we would have caught those responsible and it would have been published in news. I would like to urge that rather than a CBI probe, we should get an inquiry from HC judge and punish all those involved in liquor smuggling”.
Another Congress MLA from Badli, Kuldeep Vats, said, “Anil Vij ji, aapki taqat toh khatam ho chuki hai ab. Ab toh sirf or sirf akhbaar or TV ke alawa, app kuch nahi kar sakte. Aapki naak ke neeche itne brashtachaar ke maamle ho rahe hain. Anil Vij ji kehte hain Gabbar aa gaya, kaahe ka gabbar. Sirf, naam-naam ke Gabbar reh gaye ho. Kya karyavahi karvayi aapne. Maine aapko letter likha, kya karyavahi karvayi. Duniya corona se mar rahi thi, itna bada sharaab ka ghotala kaise hua. Hum aap se poochna chaahte hain. Iska jawaab do”.
Accusing the state government of keeping a surveillance on opposition’s MLAs and tapping their phones, Vats added, “You tape MLAs’ phone and blackmail him later. Can’t a legislator call up an officer? You ask BJP MLAs, you ask all 90 MLAs. This is an utter insult of MLAs. If you cannot ensure respect of your legislators, who will respect you?” BJP’s Harvinder Kalyan objected to remarks passed by Kuldeep Vats.
‘I am no Gabbar, I am Anil Vij’
While replying on the concerns raised by Opposition on the Calling Attention Motion, Anil Vij elaborated the action that was already taken by him in the liquor smuggling scandal and what more the government was doing to nail the actual culprits involved in the scandal.
“Members have raised their concerns about liquor smuggling. I would like to assure the House that neither any officer, nor any liquor manufacturer nor liquor mafia shall be spared at any cost. We have initiated action. Although SET had given an elaborate report, but matter was yet given to State Vigilance Bureau for further investigation. The police officers or excise department officials who were found lacking in their duty, or found involved in the scandal, I also constituted a committee headed by an ADGP rank officer. That committee has started working on it. As a result of that, a distillery owner Ashok Jain who could never be touched till date, it is the result of this probe that Ashok Jain is behind bars, today. It shows the government’s seriousness and commitment to take action against this liquor mafia”.
Responding on the issue of SIT getting converted to SET, Vij said, “Irrespective of whether it was SIT or SET, but SET did a commendable job. They brought various facts to the fore. They even named the officers who were found lacking in their duty and even gave suggestions”.
“I am not Gabbar, I am Anil Vij. Whichever case I take in my hands, I take it to a logical conclusion. The moment I got this report, I immediately handed it over to Vigilance. The Vigilance department has all the powers. It has sought relevant record from Excise department. I am not going to spare anybody, be it big or small fish. Once we complete the probe and if we do not take action, you can stand up and hold me from my collar”.
Talking about the hooch tragedy, Vij said, “Strict action is taken on complaints received. An inquiry was conducted and an SHO in Sonipat district was suspended”.
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