Jalandhar: In a major set back for the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in the state and a key ally in the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Sunday has summoned the Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia in connection with a drug racket case.
Majithia is also Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal's brother. The SAD and BJP are running a coalition government in Punjab.
According to news reports, in connection with alleged money laundering in the Rs 6,000-crore drug racket case, the ED has asked Majithia to appear before it on December 26.
"ED has issued summons to Majithia," official sources said, adding he is likely to be questioned on December 26 at 11 am at the directorate's office in Jalandhar, PTI reported.
The central agency has also finalised a questionnaire that would be put in front of Majithia. The 25-page document simply entitled ‘Questionnaire for Bikram Singh Majithia’ contains more than 50 questions pertaining to personal and business details, as per reports.
Majithia's name first surfaced in the Rs 6,000 crore international synthetic drug case when Jagdish Singh Bhola, who is a dismissed Deputy Superintendent of Police, had claimed that the youth Akali leader had assisted him in procuring synthetic chemicals and precursors from owners of pharmaceutical units in Punjab.
Meanwhile Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal defended Majithia saying summon does not mean he is a culprit in the case. “A person getting a "summon" doesn't mean that person is a criminal,” Badal said, ANI reported.
On the other hand politicos from rival parties slammed the minister.
Punjab Congress president Partap Bajwa said, "ED can only interrogate on money laundering, but there are more serious charges of abetting."
"I appeal PM if you really want thorough probe, either CBI or sitting judge should monitor entire thing," he added.
Communist Party of India (CPI) national secretary Atul Anjan said, "This whole drug game is a joint venture of Congress & Akali Dal (SAD)."
Senior lawyer HS Phoolka said, "It’s a very serious case, he must resign from Ministry at the earliest."
"Inquiry should be shifted out of Punjab immediately," he added.
Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently appealed to the people of India to stay away from the menace of drug saying when a youngster gets into the habit of drugs, we consider them bad, but the truth is the drugs are bad not the youth. The Prime Minister also urged youth to have the courage to say no to drugs.
Meanwhile, assuring full cooperation with the probe agency Majithia said, " "...I was not at home when the summons were delivered at my residence and to cooperate with the agency, I contacted the Enforcement Directorate official concerned over phone and directed my staff to receive the summons immediately," the state revenue minister said in a statement. Punjab Chief Minister came to Majithia's defence and said "summoning a person does not mean that he is a criminal".
Further describing the matter as a "malicious campaign", he added, "I am innocent but continue to be subjected to a media trial." He accused some leaders, including Congress President Partap Singh Bajwa, of trying to create a wrong perception of him and said "all allegations were baseless and without any evidence".