As Punjab Police arrested Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira in connection with a 2015 drugs case, Leader of Opposition in state Assembly Partap Singh Bajwa on Thursday said that a kidnapping case should be registered against “those police officers” for “forcibly entering” the Chandigarh residence of party leader early morning.
On the other hand, 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.
Earlier, the Congress on Thursday had lambasted the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab over the arrest of its MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira in connection with a 2015 drugs case, it has exposed the chinks in the newly minted Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A) bloc.
The Congress and the AAP are part of the I.N.D.I.A bloc, but have been at loggerheads with each other over various issues in Delhi and Punjab where the Arvind Kejriwal-led party is in power.
Khaira was arrested by the Punjab Police in connection with a 2015 drugs case on Thursday morning, official sources said. A team led by Superintendent of Police Manjeet Singh raided the Chandigarh residence of Khaira around 6 am.
The MLA’s son went live on Facebook showing that a team of Punjab Police has reached their residence to apprehend Khaira. In the video, Khaira could be seen arguing with the police team and asking them to show him the arrest warrant.
In a post on X, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said, “Kisan Congress President Sukhpal Khaira ji’s arrest is proof of the politics of revenge of the Punjab government. This step of the Aam Aadmi Party government is an attempt to suppress the voice of the opposition. This is completely wrong.”
“We are all with Sukhpal ji,” she said. In a post in Hindi on X, the Congress said, “All India Kisan Congress chairman Sukhpal Khaira Ji’s arrest is a proof of abuse of power and retaliation. The entire Congress family stands with him against this petty conspiracy to suppress his loud voice against injustice.”
“We are not ready to bow down, not ready to stop. We will fight and win,” the party said. The Punjab Congress also hit out at the AAP government, accusing it of indulging in political vendetta. Congress state unit chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa strongly condemned the arrest of Khaira.
The ruling Aam Aadmi Party, however, rejected the allegations and asserted that the action against the Bholath MLA was taken as per law. Warring visited the residence of Khaira after his arrest and met his son Mehtab Khaira and other family members. He said they stand by the Bholath MLA.
The Punjab Congress chief questioned the police action, asking what kind of probe was conducted by the Punjab Police which led to Khaira’s arrest after eight years. “It shows that ‘jungle raj’ is prevailing in the state,” Warring said and questioned the absence of Chandigarh Police during the Punjab Police action. In a post on X, Warring said, “The recent arrest of MLA Sukhpal Khaira ji smacks of political vendetta. It is an attempt to intimidate the opposition and is a ploy of the AAP government in Punjab to distract (people) from core issues. We stand strongly with Sukhpal Khaira and will take this fight to its logical conclusion.” Bajwa said, “The arrest of senior Congress leader Sukhpal Khaira is extremely deplorable. The AAP government in Punjab has stooped to an all-time low and resorted to vendetta politics.
(With inputs from Taruni Gandhi in Chandigarh)
No political vendetta in arrest: AAP
CHANDIGARH: Under fire from the Congress over the arrest of MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, AAP leader Malvinder Singh Kang Thursday rejected the allegation of political vendetta, claiming that the action against the Bholath MLA was taken according to law. He further claimed that Khaira was arrested by the Punjab Police after a special investigation team (SIT) found new facts in the drug case. Khaira was arrested by the Punjab Police in connection with a 2015 drugs case on Thursday morning from his Chandigarh residence. The Congress leaders termed the police action against the Bholath MLA as “political vendetta”. Speaking to reporters here, Kang said, “There is no political vendetta in this matter. We are going as per rule of law.” “If we wanted any political revenge, we have a government in Punjab for more than a year-and-half now, he would have been arrested earlier,” he said. He said the SIT,which was formed in April 2023, carried out an investigation in the matter and discovered some new facts in the case. “It came to fore that Khaira was found to be involved in drug smuggling and that is why he was arrested by Punjab Police today,” Kang said. The chief spokesperson of the Punjab unit of the Aam Aadmi Party said the party-led government has zero tolerance for drugs. Anyone involved in drug trafficking, no matter how influential he is, will not be spared, he said. The AAP leader claimed that in 2022, the Supreme Court, while hearing the matter, had said that the Punjab Police can reinvestigate the case. He alleged that Gurdev Singh, who was one of the convicts in the 2015 drug case, was very close to Khaira. Kang said that even the Enforcement Directorate had arrested Khaira in a money laundering case linked to the 2015 drug matter. Kang said that the FIR was registered against Khaira in 2015 during the SAD-BJP regime in connection with the drug case. The AAP leader asked the opposition parties that they should not oppose the arrest of Khaira if they want to wipe out the drug menace from the state.