Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira was arrested by the Punjab Police in connection with a 2015 drugs case on Thursday morning, official sources said.
A Punjab Police 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.
The Bholath legislator could also be seen asking for the identity of the police officers who were part of the raiding team.
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He was told by the police official that he was being arrested in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act case. When Khaira asked the team where he was being taken, a police official told him that he was being taken to Jalalabad in Fazilka.
According to official sources, a special investigation team led by Deputy Inspector General of Police Swapan Sharma was formed in April 2023 and 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 various issues, claimed that he was being apprehended in a ”false” case and that ”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 Khaira.
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. 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.
The drugs case was registered in March 2015 at Jalalabad in Fazilka. Nine people were booked in the case and later convicted under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. Police had recovered 2 kg of heroin, 24 gold biscuits, one country-made pistol, a .315-bore pistol and two Pakistani SIM cards from them.
Khaira’s cropped up later during the police probe.
However, in 2017, the Supreme Court stayed the trial court proceedings against Khaira 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 apex court quashed the summoning order against Khaira in the 2015 drugs case.