Even as the Enforcement Directorate on Friday questioned Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia in Jalandhar in connection with its probe into alleged money laundering in a multi-crore international drug racket case, his brother-in-law and Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal defended him.
“Who do you trust more? A criminal or a government? We bust a drug gang, one of those arrested accuses a minister and everybody believes him… nobody is talking about the good work we did in busting the gang,” said Badal during an Idea Exchange programme at The Indian Express on Friday.
Referring to alleged kingpin Jagdish Bhola, a dismissed DSP of Punjab Police who was arrested in November last year, Badal said: “That person is a known hardcore criminal. It was only six-eight months after his arrest that he gave this statement accusing the minister (Majithia). Now political parties are taking advantage of a criminal’s statement.”
Badal added that suitable action would be taken if the charges against Majithia are proved. Stating that the SAD-BJP government had busted many drug rackets in its seven-year rule, Badal alleged that he had made many enemies who were now trying to corner him with such allegations.
“We have been most proactive in catching those involved in drugs, and now we are being blamed. If we were supporting drugs, we wouldn’t have arrested so many people,” he said, adding that as many as 75,000 people had been arrested in Punjab under the NDPS Act in the last seven years.
Badal claimed that the drugs were coming from Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and neighbouring Rajasthan. “Why should any state earn money by ruining other states? We are the sufferers… how can you blame us?” he asked.
Significantly, the SAD also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi today to “direct” the Rajasthan government to “ban sale of opium as Punjab was suffering due to the Rajasthan government’s policy to earn profit from sale of this commodity”.
SAD leaders said it was unfortunate that the Rajasthan government had given licences to over 17,000 opium vends, and that this opium was being smuggled into Punjab. “This is causing social unrest in Punjab and needs to be addressed immediately,” said the party in a statement.