Chandigarh: Punjab senior Congress leader Sukhpal Khaira was arrested by the state police in connection with a 2015 drugs case from his sector 5 house here early Thursday morning.
According to information, Khaira, a three-time MLA from Bholath seat in Kapurthala district, and the police personnel argued for several minutes before he was taken to Jalalabad town of Fazilka district.
Khaira’s son Mehtab Singh, an advocate who released a statement later, said that his father was arrested in an eight-year-old drug case, and it was the same case which was quashed by the Supreme Court of India.
Stating that the police had bypassed all procedures and order of the apex court to gag the voice of a strong leader, he said that his father had told him to inform everyone that he was not scared of any false implication and would fight for Punjab till the very end.
Opposition leaders condemn arrest
Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring and leader of the opposition Partap Singh Bajwa, condemned the arrest accusing the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of indulging in political vendetta. They questioned what kind of police probe was in which Khaira was arrested after eight years and held that it showed that ``jungle raj’’ was prevailing in the state.
However, reacting to Khaira’s arrest, the AAP chief spokesperson Malvinder Kang said the AAP government had no political vendetta behind it as his arrest was made on the basis of evidence found against him during the SIT investigation. If the government wanted any political revenge, it had been a government for more than a year-and-a-half now, and it would have been arrested earlier already.
Kang said that in 2022, the Supreme Court had given relief to Khaira, but the court had clearly written in its order that the Punjab police could re-investigate the case. Based on this order, an SIT of Punjab police had started re-investigation of this case, he added.
For the record, the said drug case was registered in March 2015 in Jalalabad in which nine persons had been convicted under the NDPS Act; the police had recovered 2 kg heroin, 24 gold biscuits, one .315 bore pistol, one country-made pistol and two Pakistani SIM cards from them. Khaira’s name had cropped up in the police probe though the apex court had stayed the trial court proceedings against Khaira in 2017, who was summoned as an additional accused in the matter. Khaira was arrested by the enforcement directorate (ED) in 2021 on the charges of money laundering linked with the 2015 drug case, and he was granted bail in 2022. The apex court quashed the summoning order against Khaira in the drug case in February 2023.