Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira was arrested by the Punjab Police in connection with a 2015 drugs case this morning, official sources said.
A team led by Superintendent of Police Manjeet Singh raided the MLA’s Chandigarh home around 6 am.
His son went live on Facebook to show that a team of the Punjab Police was at their home to arrest Mr Khaira. In the video, Sukhpal Khaira could be seen arguing with the police, asking them to show the arrest warrant.
The Bholath legislator could also be seen asking for the identity cards of the police officers in the raiding team.
He was told by the police that he was being arrested in a case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. When he asked the police where he was being taken, an official told him that he was being taken to Jalalabad in Fazilka.
According to official sources, a special investigation team (SIT) led by Deputy Inspector General of Police Swapan Sharma was formed in April 2023 and Mr Khaira was arrested based on its investigation into the 2015 case.
Slamming the Bhagwant Mann government, the Congress MLA, who has been critical of the AAP government on several issues, claimed that he was being apprehended in a “false” case and that a “jungle raj” was prevailing in the state.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Congress hit out at the AAP government, accusing it of indulging in political vendetta. The Congress state unit chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and Leader of Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa strongly condemned the arrest of Mr Khaira.
The ruling Aam Aadmi Party, however, rejected the allegation and asserted that the action against the MLA was taken as per law.
Mr Warring visited Mr Khaira’s home after his arrest and met his son Mehtab Khaira and his family. He said they stand by the MLA.
The Punjab Congress chief questioned the police action, asking what kind of probe was conducted by the Punjab Police which led to Mr Khaira’s arrest after eight years.
“It shows that ‘jungle raj’ is prevailing in the state,” Mr Warring said, questioning the absence of Chandigarh Police during the raid.
In a post on X, Mr 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.”
Mr 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. Sukhpal Singh Khaira has been outspoken and raised his voice against the wrongdoings and irregularities committed by CM Bhagwant Mann’s government.”
“The Punjab Congress under the ambit of law will leave no stone unturned to get him released,” he added.
Interacting with reporters, the AAP’s Punjab unit chief spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang, however, said, “There is no political vendetta in this matter. We are going by the law.” He informed the reporters that the SIT, which was formed in April 2023, carried out an investigation into the matter and discovered some new facts in the case.
“Sukhpal Khaira was found to be involved in drug smuggling and that is why he was arrested by the Punjab Police today. There is zero tolerance against drugs,” Mr Kang added.
The drug case was registered in March 2015 at Jalalabad in Fazilka. Nine people, including Gurdev Singh who was allegedly a close aide of Khaira, were booked in the case and later convicted under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
The police had recovered two kg of heroin, 24 gold biscuits, one country-made pistol, a .315-bore pistol, and two Pakistani SIM cards from them. Mr Khaira’s name came up during the police probe.
However, in 2017, the Supreme Court stayed the trial court proceedings against the MLA who was summoned as an additional accused in the matter. He was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in 2021 on the charge of money laundering linked to the 2015 drug case. He was granted bail in 2022.
In February 2023, the Supreme Court quashed the summoning order against Khaira in the 2015 drug case.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by String Reveals staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)