A local court in Punjab on Thursday sent Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira to a two-day police remand in connection with a 2015 drugs case, a police official said. Khaira was produced in the court in Fazilka's Jalalabad after being arrested from Chandigarh, the official said. Police had sought a seven-day remand from the court. He was arrested by Punjab Police in connection with a 2015 drug case. He was arrested from his residence in Chandigarh at around 6 am in the morning today (September 28).
The Jalalabad Police arrested the Congress leader following the raid at his Chandigarh residence.
Arrested in NDPS case
As per the inputs received, the Bholath MLA has been arrested in an old case registered against him under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
Khaira was confronted with crucial evidence related to the drug case, after which the police took action. In 2015, the Supreme Court had quashed the order for his summons issued by the Sessions Court in the NDPS Act case on technical grounds and directed that new proceedings be initiated in this case.
SIT to probe drug trafficking case
On April 13, 2023, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed under the leadership of Punjab Police's DIG Swapan Sharma to investigate the Fazilka drug trafficking case. Khaira was found to be involved in the SIT's investigation into drug trafficking in Punjab in 2023. Based on this, the Punjab Police arrested Khaira.
In this case, drug trafficker Gurdev Singh has already been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Gurdev is very close to Khaira, and it was Gurdev who provided a statement to the ED implicating Khaira's involvement. Khaira has been accused of protecting himself in this case through political influence. Based on a court order dated April 13, 2023, the Punjab Police formed an SIT. The action was taken under Section 27A based on Gurdev's statement.
Khaira claims he was being arrested in fake case
A family member of the Congress MLA went live on Facebook showing that a team of Punjab Police had reached their residence to arrest Khaira. In the video, he can be seen engaging in a conversation with the police officers. He can be heard requesting the police for an arrest warrant and seeking an explanation for his arrest.
In the video, an official identifying himself as DSP Jalalabad Acchru Ram Sharma informs Khaira about his arrest for an old NDPS 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.
Slamming the Bhagwant Mann government, the Congress MLA claimed that he was being arrested in a fake case and that "jungle raj" was prevailing in the state. Khaira further claimed that the case was quashed by the Supreme Court and opposes the arrest. Arguing further, he claims that the move is "politically motivated."
Congress on MLA's arrest
Meanwhile, Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh Raja Warring hit out at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government over Khaira's arrest, calling it an act of “political vendetta”. “The recent arrest of @INCPunjab MLA @SukhpalKhaira ji smacks of Political Vendetta, it is an attempt to intimidate the opposition and is a ploy of the @AAPPunjab govt to distract from core issues. We stand strongly with Sukhpal Khaira and will take this fight to its logical conclusion,” he wrote on X.
Warring also met the family members of Khaira. "Both at the top and bottom, government agencies are being used against the opposition, but no one is held accountable. The Punjab Police and the state government should feel ashamed. This case resurfaced after 8-9 years. It was registered during the Akali Dal's rule. Arresting Sukhpal Khaira in a case that had no merits is questionable," he said.
"We have no fear of arrest. The matter regarding the alliance has already been discussed with the top leadership in Delhi. But today, there is no talk about the alliance. Today, we should discuss the current issues. I have come here to meet with the family, but after this, we, along with other leaders of Punjab Congress will prepare the next strategy," he added.
Khaira was earlier arrested by ED
The Congress MLA has faced action before in a similar case. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had previously summoned him for questioning in this matter, which led to his arrest. The ED had alleged that Khaira was involved with the accused in a drugs case and a fake passport racket. While filing a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Khaira had explained that the case under the NDPS Act in 2015 against him was sub-judice. A money laundering case was also registered against him. The High Court had granted him conditional bail in this case in January 2022. Following this, Khaira had sought refuge in the Supreme Court regarding the NDPS case.
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. In 2017, the Supreme Court stayed the trial court proceedings against Khaira who was summoned as an additional accused in the matter.