The Statesman – ‘Mind your own business’: Punjab CM slams Kejriwal for demanding CBI probe into hooch tragedy

The death toll in the Punjab hooch tragedy rose to 98 on Sunday with 12 more people reported dead in Tarn Taran district after drinking spurious liquor.

New Delhi – India, 03 August 2020. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday hit back at Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal for the demand of a CBI probe into the state’s hooch tragedy, saying the AAP leader should “mind his own business”.

He further asked the Delhi chief minister “not to exploit the tragic affair for reviving his defunct Aam Aadmi Party’s stake in the state”.

Reacting on the Punjab hooch tragedy, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday demanded a CBI probe into the matter which has claimed 98 lives so far.

“Saddened by the loss of lives in Punjab due to illicit liquor. State government needs to immediately take necessary steps to curb such mafias,” he said.

“The case should be handed over to CBI immediately as none of the illicit liquor cases from the last few months have been solved by local police,” he added.

Slamming Kejriwal over his remarks, Amarinder Singh said, “So many people have died and all you are interested in is making political meat from the incident. Don’t you have any shame.”

Asking the AAP leader to “mind his own business”, the Punjab CM said his Delhi counterpart should concentrate on maintaining law and order in his own state, which was “notorious for the brazen manner in which criminals and gangs were roaming the streets without fear”.

Kejriwal had also claimed that none of the illicit liquor cases in Punjab from the last few months has been solved so far.

Trashing the claim, the Punjab chief minister asked Kejriwal to verify his facts “before shooting through his mouth”.

Citing that an illicit liquor factory was busted in Khanna on April 22, the CM said eight accused were arrested and a manhunt was launched for seven others.

In another case, two kingpins behind an illicit liquor distillery operating in Patiala district were arrested on May 22 and June 13 this year, and on July 10, a challan was filed in the court, the Punjab chief minister said.

Further, expressing full faith in the Punjab police, the CM said Kejriwal’s demand for a CBI probe was nothing but a “political gimmick”, aimed at “regaining lost foothold” for his party, which had “completely lost ground” in Punjab despite being the principal opposition party.

The CM said despite the cases of targeted killings in Punjab being handed over the CBI, it was eventually the Punjab Police that had solved the same.

Even in the sacrilege cases, the CBI failed to deliver and it is the Punjab Police which is unravelling the case, he claimed.

Rather than delaying the investigation and allow the trail to go cold even in the present spurious liquor case by handing over the probe to CBI, he was more interested in ensuring swift action against all those whose greed had cost the state around 100 lives, the CM said in the statement.

The CM asked Kejriwal to check out his facts before making “unsubstantiated and wild allegations” against his government, whose track record in curbing crime of all kinds was “exemplary”.

“Why don’t you ask your Punjab unit for data and figures first and then comment on our working?” he asked the Delhi CM. Singh also advised his Delhi counterpart to concentrate on his state’s “horrendous” COVID situation.

“Rather than worrying about Punjab’s affairs, why don’t you take care of the health and lives of Delhiites,” the CM said.

Amarinder, meanwhile, informed that 30 people have already been arrested in three districts in connection with the hooch tragedy and said that action is being taken against all those found guilty in cases of illicit brewing and smuggling.

Moreover, 13 officials from the police and excise and taxation departments had been suspended for negligence while investigations are on to ascertain their complicity in the case, he said.

A magisterial inquiry had ordered with the mandate to submit its report within a month, he further said, asking what was the need for CBI to take over the case when the local police was handling it so effectively.

Earlier on Saturday, the chief minister had described the police and excise department failure to check the manufacturing and sale of spurious liquor as shameful”.

The state government has also announced Rs 2 lakh ex gratia for each of the families of the deceased.

Meanwhile, Kejriwal’s demand for a CBI probe comes as the AAP is in opposition in Punjab and the state is the second where the party is active after Delhi.

The opposition AAP also held protests at several places, including Patiala, Barnala, Pathankot and Moga, against the Punjab government.

The protesters accused the government of negligence, leading to death of people, mostly belonging to poor families.

The death toll in the Punjab hooch tragedy rose to 98 on Sunday with 12 more people reported dead in Tarn Taran district after drinking spurious liquor.

Apart from Tarn Taran, 12 deaths have been reported from Amritsar and 11 from Gurdaspur’s Batala.

The Statesman – Drugs still sell ‘like potatoes’: Punjab MLA buys heroin on Facebook Live

Ludhiana legislator Simarjeet Singh Bains hands over half of the purchased drugs to Police Commissioner Sukhchain Singh Gill for laboratory tests, says he will get the remaining chitta examined in a private lab

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 12 March 2019. To make a point that drugs are still easily available in Punjab, Lok Insaf Party (LIP) leader and Ludhiana MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains bought heroin on Facebook Live on Monday.

Streaming the clip of the buying process live on social media, Bains told viewers that white heroin was being sold “like potatoes” in Ludhiana and alleged that the police administration was hand-in-glove with the drug mafia.

The MLA asked how the station house officers (SHOs) were unaware while banned substances were being sold openly in the city.

The Facebook Live video continued till Bains approached Ludhiana Police Commissioner Sukhchain Singh Gill, handing him over half of the purchased drugs for laboratory tests.

The other half, the MLA said, was not given by him to the police fearing they could manipulate the chemical test report. He claimed that he would get the remaining of chitta examined in a private lab.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had on Thursday claimed that his government broke “the back of drug mafia in the state within four weeks of forming government”.

But the demand for catching “big fish” in the drug cases was heard in the Punjab Assembly recently despite the CM challenging all those who had been pointing fingers at the government for not acting against influential drug dealers.

Citing figures of the arrests and seizures in the drug cases, Amarinder had said: “We know one-two people who are out of the country, and we will also catch them,” said Captain Amarinder while vowing to continue “to fight the battle against drugs from the front, not resting till it is completely eliminated from the State”.

LIP MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains had asked why no action had been taken against the persons whose names had been mentioned in the report submitted by the Special Task Force (STF) on drugs, then headed by Harpreet Sidhu.

“The names were mentioned in the STF report, your own cabinet minister had read the entire report before the media. Why no action has been taken against that? Every day, youngsters are dying due to overdose,” he had asked.

Bains urged the government to prepare the cases of the “big fish” and sent them to the courts “so that they should know what wrong they have done to the Punjabi youth”.

Congress MLA Fateh Jung Bajwa also demanded to act against the persons named in the STF report.

The Hindu – Panjab CM condemns killing of Indian-American Sikh police officer in USA.

Sandeep Dhaliwal was the first police officer in Texas to serve while keeping his Sikh articles of faith.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 28 September 2019. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday condemned the killing of an Indian-American-Sikh police officer in the USA State of Texas.

Sikh police officer who got permission to wear turban shot dead in Texas.

Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, who made headlines in the USA when he was allowed to grow a beard and wear a turban on the job, was shot and killed in an “ambush-style” attack in a “ruthless, cold-blooded way”, a senior official of Harris County said on Saturday.

“Deeply anguished to learn the ruthless killing of Deputy Sheriff of Harris County, Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal. He represented the Sikh community with pride and was the first turbaned police officer of America. My condolences to his family. RIP,” the Chief Minister tweeted.

Dhaliwal, who was in his early 40s, was the first police officer in Texas to serve while keeping his Sikh articles of faith, including a turban and beard.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Dhaliwal, a 10-year veteran of the department, stopped a vehicle with a man and woman inside and one of them got out and shot him “ambush-style” at least twice in a “ruthless, cold-blooded way” on Friday.

The gunman and the woman were taken into custody, officials said.

Dhaliwal was married and a father of three children.

Since 2015, Dhaliwal was the “history-making” police officer in Texas to serve while keeping his Sikh articles of faith. He was allowed to wear the turban and beard while patrolling the streets in order to bolster cultural diversity.

With this policy, one of the largest sheriff’s offices in the USA had affirmed that a person does not have to choose between their faith and a career of service.

The Hindu – Bargari case: Punjab has no faith in CBI, says Amarinder Singh

The CBI is acting under pressure from Centre at the behest of the Badals, he says

Special Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 27 September 2019. A day after the CBI transferred the probe relating to the Bargari sacrilege cases of 2015 to its special investigation team, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday said the State had no faith in the agency as it was acting under pressure from the Central government.

While the State government formally contested, in the special court at Mohali, the CBI’s decision to hand over the investigation to SIT, the Chief Minister said the CBI, clearly acting under pressure from the Central government at the behest of the ‘Badals’ of the Shiromani Akali Dal, was quite obviously trying to stop the probe from going forward.

“The decision to hand over the case to a new SIT three months after the CBI had filed a closure report in court was a clear ploy to delay the probe and stop the State government from taking over,” he said.

He said the State government would continue to oppose the CBI in the court and would also fight, at all levels, for getting the case back to the State. “We will not let anyone get away with cheating the people of Punjab of their due justice.”

The CBI had exposed itself to be totally partisan and unfair in the entire affair, said Captain Amarinder, pointing out that despite repeated pleas and efforts from the State government in the wake of the closure report, the national agency had failed to return the case files to the Punjab police.

The failure was clearly deliberate and mischievous, so that the agency could buy time to divert the case to the new SIT, for its eventual burial, he added.

“The CBI has been acting entirely under the influence of the Badals, which negates any possibility of a fair and thorough probe into the case,” said the Chief Minister, adding that justice could be meted out only if the State police investigated the matter.

“For three years, they [CBI] failed to make any headway despite all the powers and means at their disposal, and then filed a closure report without completing the investigation.

And when we decided to duly take the case back from them, as per the decision of the Vidhan Sabha, they have done a complete U-turn again by reopening the case and handing it over to their own SIT,” said the Chief Minister.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India

Special Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 13 June 2019. In a bid to alleviate the woes of the State’s distressed farmers, the Punjab government has sought a hike in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) on various crops for Rabi 2019-20, from the Central government.

The Punjab Agriculture Department has come out with a detailed proposal for a hike in the MSP of wheat crop from Rs 1,840 per quintal in 2018-19 to Rs 2,710 in 2019-20, and barley from Rs 1,440 to Rs 1,974 per quintal.

“The proposal, submitted to the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP), also seeks hike in the MSP of gram from the earlier Rs 4,620 to Rs 5,631 per quintal, and of rapeseed and mustard from Rs 4,200 to Rs 5,384 per quintal,” an official statement said on Wednesday.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, said the hike was necessary for promoting crops like barley, gram, rapeseed and mustard in the State, to give a much needed push for crop diversification that would help arrest the depleting groundwater table in Punjab.

“While the State government had taken all possible steps to ease the problems of the farmers, including farm debt waiver, the Centre’s intervention was needed to support these measures, especially in the matter of MSP which was under its control,” he said.

The Chief Minister also reiterated his demand for in toto implementation of the M S Swaminathan Commission report, to ensure the much-needed improvement in the agriculture system and better remuneration for the farmers.