Punjab Minister Bikram Majithia Summoned for Questioning Over Money Laundering in Drugs Case

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NewZNew (Chandigarh) : A political storm is brewing over the Enforcement Directorate’s summons to Punjab’s cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia in connection with a money laundering case. The agency is investigating the international money transaction link in the multi-crore drugs racket detected by the Punjab Police last year.

bikramjit-majithia-i8The ED has summoned Mr Majithia for questioning on December 26 in Jalandhar. Mr Majithia’s name had surfaced after Jagdish Bhola, a man arrested near Delhi last year for drugs trade, alleged in court that it was being run under the minister’s patronage and the full knowledge of the state police. The summons to him is based on the statements of Bhola and Bittu Aulakh, a local politician from Ajnala, who was also arrested for links with drug smugglers.

The revenue minister is the brother-in-law of Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. After the controversy broke, he divested of the NRI Affairs portfolio and had to relinquish the post of the president of Youth Wing of the Akali Dal. Mr Majithia had denied the allegations.

Today, he said he would cooperate fully with the Enforcement Directorate.  The opposition has demanded Mr Majithia’s immediate resignation.

“The Enforcement Directorate can only interrogate on money laundering, but there are more serious charges of abetting,” said Partap Bajwa, chief of Punjab state Congress, today. “I appeal to the Prime Minister, if you really want a thorough probe, either the CBI or a sitting judge should monitor entire thing.”

“He must resign from the ministry and the inquiry should be shifted out of Punjab immediately,” said senior advocate and Aam Aadmi Party member HS Phoolka.

Reacting to the summons, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said, “Summons doesn’t mean a person is a criminal”. But earlier this year, Mr Badal had sacked cabinet colleague Sarwan Singh Phillaur after his son was summoned by the ED in the same case.

Drugs became a key issue during the Lok Sabha polls, when the Opposition Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party had raked up the alleged involvement of politicians from the ruling party.

Though the ED had been accused of dragging its feet on issuing summons to Mr Majithia ever since the Narendra Modi government came to power, its move is being seen as another sign of deteriorating ties between the Akali Dal and the BJP.