Sat, 09 Dec 2023

Ludhiana (Punjab) [India], September 28 (ANI): Punjab Youth Congress workers on Thursday staged a protest in Ludhiana against the arrest of party MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira in a 2015 drug case.

The protestors with banners in their hands raised slogans against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led Punjab government.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Congress leaders called on state Governor Banwarilal Purohit at Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh and briefed the latter about the incident in detail.

Leader of Opposition in state Assembly Partap Singh Bajwa said that a kidnapping case should be registered against "those police officers" for "forcibly entering" the Chandigarh residence of party leader Khaira.

Bajwa said that Punjab Police cannot enter Chandigarh as it is a Union Territory (UT). "Before arresting Sukhpal Singh Khaira or entering the house, did they (police officers) take the nod of the DG and the SSP of Chandigarh? I am sure they did not," the Congress leader said.

"Because in the morning when Khaira was being arrested they (police) forcibly entered his house. They broke open the outer door...went into his house. Khaira repeatedly asked do you have arrest warrants from the court? Is the Chandigarh Police accompanying you? All police officers had no answer to this... We've requested the Governor that if it is proved that the Punjab Police officials entered without informing the UT police then a kidnapping case should be registered against them," he added.

When asked about the motive of Khaira's arrest, Bajwa said that the Aam Aadmi Party government led by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann wants to damage the image of the Congress Party as it is the primary opponent in the border state.

He added that the Congress leaders are planning to organize a big dharna in Bathinda tomorrow against the arrest.

Khaira was arrested in connection with an old case registered in 2015 under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

Earlier in 2015, there were two cases originated with the unearthing of a cross-border drug smuggling network in Fazilka, Punjab, leading to the seizure of heroin, gold biscuits, weapons, cartridges, and Pakistani SIM cards and the second of a fake passport racket being run in Delhi.

As the trial went on, nine smugglers, including Gurdev Singh, Manjit Singh, Harbans Singh, and Subhash Chander, were sentenced in October 2017 in connection with the Fazilka case. As per the chargesheet, Khaira was closely associated with Gurdev Singh, the leader of the Fazilka drug smuggling racket, and is accused of having sheltered him.

The primary accusations against Khaira include supporting an international gang of smugglers, having sheltered him and receiving financial benefits from drug traffickers, and enjoying the proceeds of crime.

On February 16, 2023, a Supreme Court bench of Justices BR Gavai and Vikram Nath quashed the summoning order against Khaira in the drugs case.

The arrest of Sukhpal Khaira is expected to further dent the relations of AAP and the Congress which have come together to form the INDIA alliance at the centre. The state unit of the Congress has opposed any tie-up or seat-sharing arrangement with the AAP in Punjab. (ANI)

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