A day after Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala , who also holds the excise portfolio, “dismissed” findings of the Special Enquiry Team over alleged liquor smuggling in the state, CM Manohar Lal Khattar Saturday hinted at going ahead with state Home Minister Anil Vij’s recommendation of a vigilance probe into the matter.
Speaking in Faridabad, CM Khattar said, “It does not matter who agrees or disagrees with the report’s findings…corruption will not be tolerated at any cost.” Backing his Cabinet colleague Vij and giving clear hints that the state government was going to probe further into the SET’s findings, Khattar said, “Whatever work is done in the government, it is done through a system, through a structure. Based on several complaints that we received, a SET was constituted.
SET’s timeline ended and it gave its report. On the instructions of the Home Department, the SET gave its findings and conclusions in its report. Now, the Home Department will send us its recommendations (on the SET findings). What all further needs to be done shall be done accordingly. There is only one issue – corruption will not be tolerated at any cost.”
Further replying to media’s queries regarding Dushyant dismissing SET’s findings, Khattar added, “It is not a subject of anybody’s agreement or disagreement. System is a system. Corruption shall not be tolerated and action shall be taken accordingly.” The CM was in Faridabad to inaugurate a school. Vij, meanwhile, did not react specifically to Dushyant’s comments where he had asked the Home Minister to first probe police’s conduct before looking into excise department’s role.
He said, “SET has submitted its report and I have recommended it to the Chief Minister for further necessary action.” Opposition guns for Vij, Dushyant INLD’s lone MLA Abhay Singh Chautala who is also Dushyant’s uncle, however, attacked both Vij and Dushyant on Saturday.
In a statement, Abhay said, “During lockdown, over 1.1 crore bottles of liquor were sold with the collusion between liquor mafia and the officials of the government. Several District Excise and Taxation officers refused to share information with the SET….The excise minister giving a clean chit to Excise and Taxation Commissioner is nothing but an open challenge to the Chief Minister.” Abhay added, “There were several police checkposts all across the state during lockdown. How did the liquor smuggling take place in such a tight police security? The Home Minister can also not run away from his responsibility barely by saying that he was recommending a vigilance probe in the matter. The CM must get a high-level judicial probe done in this scandal.”
Calling the war of words between Vij and Dushyant over SET’s findings “a drama”, Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Hooda said, “Government is staging a drama to save the liquor mafia. To catch the real liquor mafia, a thorough inquiry by a High Court judge is required.
As of today, the Home Minister and Excise Minister are pointing fingers at each other. Government’s seriousness to probe liquor smuggling in the state becomes evident from the fact that while a Special Investigation Team was announced to be constituted in the beginning, but instead a Special Enquiry Team was constituted. The SET had no powers of investigation, nor it had any powers to seize any document nor inspect any premises nor could register a case. SET, in its report, has also mentioned that excise department did not provide the information that was asked.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines