In a revelation that signifies how complicity of criminals with upholders of law in Punjab allowed the state to be pushed further into the growing menace of drug-trade and addiction, a decorated police official, known for conducting high-profile drug raids with an almost 100 per cent track record, was on Monday night arrested from his official quarters on charges of drug-trafficking among others.
The arrest, considered a major breakthrough for the government-appointed Special Task Force, recoveries from inspector Inderjit Singh's residence included a large haul of drugs, arms and ammunition. During the search the sleuths recovered an AK 47 rifle, a 9mm Italy made pistol, a .38 bore revolver with 383 rounds of different weapons including 115 of AK 47. Police also recovered cash worth Rs 16.50 lakhs and £ 3350 from his residence besides an Innova vehicle.
Searches at his second government quarter in Phagwara led to the recovery of 4 kg heroin and 3 Kg smack.
Shockingly, Inderjit was considered a “specialist” in recovering drugs and had registered dozens of cases under the NDPS Act with different police stations.
Here is how he operated. Singh would first conduct high-profile raids and then become the Investigating Officer for the cases. He would then create loopholes in the cases that would allow the accused to go scot-free.
The involvement of the ‘star inspector’ in drug trafficking came to light when the STF was analysing cases pertaining to large recoveries of narcotics in the last five years.
Singh’s impressive record of drug seizures at every posting turned out too good to be true.
"They were repeatedly acquitted on the grounds that the inspector was not competent enough to investigate the case as he held the rank of head constable. The minimum rank under NDPS rules to investigate such cases is Assistant Sub Inspector," the STF chief Sindhu said.
"There was also a deliberate attempt to tamper with the evidence in several cases," he said, adding that there were "glaring discrepancies" in investigations, which appeared to be a "deliberate attempt to favour the accused".
In 2013-14, Inderjeet was working as a Crime Investigation Agency inspector in Tarn Taran and had made recoveries of 20 kgs of heroin and 54 packets of poppy husk in three cases. In all these cases, the accused were acquitted, Sidhu said.
Then, STF referred these cases to IG, Border Range, Mukhwinder Singh, and the Tarn Taran SSP, who recommended criminal action against the inspector under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
India TV contacted Jagtar Singh, an accused in one of the drugs cases investigated by Inderjit in which he was arrested with 54 kg opium. He revealed that Inderjit had taken Rs 14 lakh from him to tamper with the evidence to favour him.
The STF IG further told India TV about cases in which drugs was seized by Inderjit, but the accused were acquitted.
Discussing three cases – FIR No. 155/2013 (19 kg heroin seized), FIR No. 100/2013 (a kg heroin seized) and FIR No. 85/2013 (54 kg opium seized) -- the STF IG said that all the three cases were related to the Sirhauli area and the accused were acquitted.
At that time, Inderjit was a constable, which means he did not have the authority to investigate a case. This also raises several questions on Punjab Police authorities who gave him the authority to probe the cases despite his ineligibility.
Asked if any political links had come to the fore with this arrest, Sidhu said it was a matter of investigation. "In case anything comes up, we will take action as per law," he added.
Meanwhile, Inderjit's family members alleged that he was arrested at the behest of a senior police officer.
"He (Inderjit) had a personal enmity with a senior police officer and that is why he was arrested. We will approach the DGP tomorrow and present him with the facts of the case. The house in Phagwara from where the recovery was made was not even in his name," claimed Nitin Chhabra, the inspector's son-in-law.
The revelation comes following the constitution of a Special Task Force (STF), headed by ADGP Harpeet Singh Sidhu, to curb the drug menace in the state soon after the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government assumed power in Punjab in March this year.