Delhi Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj on Tuesday defended the move by the AAP government in Punjab to have Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira arrested over alleged connections with a drug smuggling racket, saying that the narcotic menace could have a devastating impact on the state’s youth.
Speaking to ANI on Tuesday, Bharadwaj said, “This matter had been in the high court earlier. Evidence (of the Congress leader’s link to the drug racket) had been presented before the high court as well. The evidence only serves to establish his connections with drug peddlers. Punjab’s youth are being addicted to drugs and spoilt.”
Advocating zero tolerance in such cases, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader added, “I don’t think even his party would stand with him as he has been found to be involved in a drug case,” he added.
Even as the ruling AAP and the Congress, which are partners in the Opposition bloc INDIA, were at loggerheads over the arrest of MLA Khaira in a drug case, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said his party was not against any leader but ‘drug menace’, urging “all parties” to join them in the ongoing crackdown.
While the Congress labelled the arrest as a demonstration of the AAP’s vindictive politics, the ruling party said it was part of their “zero-tolerance policy” against drugs.
Earlier, in 2015, two cases blew the lid off a cross-border drug smuggling network in Punjab’s Fazilka. One of these cases led to the seizure of heroin, gold biscuits, weapons, cartridges, and Pakistani SIM cards while the other was of a fake passport racket being run in Delhi.
Nine smugglers, including Gurdev Singh, Manjit Singh, Harbans Singh, and Subhash Chander, were sentenced in October 2017 in connection with the Fazilka case.
According to the chargesheet filed in the case, Khaira was closely associated with Gurdev, the leader of the Fazilka drug smuggling racket, and is also accused to have sheltered him. The primary accusations against Khaira include supporting an international gang of smugglers, having sheltered him and receiving financial benefits from drug traffickers, and enjoying the proceeds of crime.
On February 16,, a Supreme Court bench of Justices BR Gavai and Vikram Nath quashed the summoning order against Khaira in the drug case