August 4, 2021 11:38:37 pm
The anti-drug Special Task Force (STF) on Wednesday denied any delay on its part in exposing the “big fish” in drug trafficking, saying that it had conducted its probe and submitted the report in shortest possible time.
Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Harpreet Sidhu, who heads the STF, said, ““he STF conducted the inquiry and submitted the report in the court in the shortest period and quickest possible. In the matter, the original case pertains to the district police and not the STF.”
He was reacting to a letter written to him by Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Anurag Aggarwal wherein the senior official had claimed that there was an alleged delay on part of Sidhu-led STF to proceed against “big fish” involved in the drug trade.
“STF has acted correctly in the manner,” the ADGP said and declined to add more saying that he will shortly respond to the letter by the Punjab Home department.
The home department letter came close on the heels of allegations that the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress was soft pedaling on the issue of drugs. Following the feud within the Congress, where Amritsar East MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu was appointed as state party chief, the party high command had noted that 18 promises made by the state leadership ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls needed to be fulfilled. Eliminating the drug menace from the state was one of the key pre-poll promise.
The Congress government has been under attack not only from opposition, but also from leaders within the party for not doing enough to tackle the drugs problem.
Apart from anger over incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, the drug taint on Panthic SAD had cost it dearly with party finishing third in 2017 Assembly elections, securing only 15 seats in 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha, in its worst ever electoral performance.
The STF was constituted soon after the Congress formed government in Punjab in March 2017. CM Amarinder Singh, in the run up to polls, had vowed crackdown on drugs and combat the menace in four week’s time. A 1992-batch-IPS officer, Sidhu was appointed as head of the STF. The officer, who was on deputation with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) where he was commanding units engaged in anti-Naxal operation in Chhatisgarh, was handpicked by the CM. He joined the anti-drug force after premature repatriation from central deputation, which otherwise was to end in June 2018.
Sidhu was removed as STF chief in September 2018 and posted as special principal secretary to the CM amid reports of friction between him and then DGP Suresh Arora. He was replaced by DGP rank officer Mohammad Mustafa, who too was subsequently replaced by ADGP rank officer Gurpreet Deo. In July 2019, Sidhu was posted back as STF chief. After a six-month study leave, Sidhu on his return from United States last month was posted back as STF chief again, third time within the tenure of Amarinder Singh government, in its fifth year now.
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