Describing the situation as a manifestation of “politics of revenge,” Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira voiced strong criticism against Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, accusing him of having a bloodthirsty disposition. Khaira made these remarks outside the Fazilka court complex following his arrest earlier that day by the Punjab police. His arrest was linked to an old case dating back to 2015, filed under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
Addressing reporters, Sukhpal Singh Khaira raised concerns about his personal safety, suggesting that Bhagwant Mann might go to extreme lengths, even to the extent of causing harm to him. He asserted, “They used to say that we are practicing ‘Badlaav ki Rajneeti’ (politics of change), but they are actually engaged in ‘Badla ki Rajneeti’ (politics of revenge). Bhagwant Mann has developed a thirst for blood.”
Expressing his resolve, Khaira added, “I will not be surprised if he gets me eliminated also. I sense something very, very dangerous, and I personally feel Bhagwant Mann will be solely responsible.”
Khaira further alleged that Bhagwant Mann’s actions stemmed from an inability to tolerate the growing popularity of the Congress in Punjab. He claimed that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had arrested him in an attempt to undermine the Congress’s standing in Punjab. Khaira emphasized his determination to fight back and voiced confidence in the eventual triumph of truth.
In response to Sukhpal Singh Khaira’s detention, a Punjab Congress delegation planned to meet Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit at 6 pm.
The background of this case harks back to 2015 when two separate cases came to light: one involving the uncovering of a cross-border drug smuggling network in Fazilka, Punjab, which resulted in the seizure of heroin, gold biscuits, weapons, cartridges, and Pakistani SIM cards; the other centered on a fake passport racket operating in Delhi. As the legal proceedings unfolded, nine smugglers, including Gurdev Singh, Manjit Singh, Harbans Singh, and Subhash Chander, were convicted in October 2017 in connection with the Fazilka case.
Sukhpal Singh Khaira’s involvement in the case was linked to his alleged close association with Gurdev Singh, the leader of the Fazilka drug smuggling racket, and accusations of providing shelter to him. Additional charges included supporting an international gang of smugglers, receiving financial benefits from drug traffickers, and benefiting from the proceeds of criminal activities.
On February 16, 2023, the Supreme Court bench, comprising Justices BR Gavai and Vikram Nath, quashed the summoning order against Khaira in the drugs case.
The arrest of Sukhpal Singh Khaira is anticipated to further strain the relations between AAP and the Congress, which had come together to form the INDIA alliance at the national level. The state unit of the Congress had expressed opposition to any alliance or seat-sharing arrangement with the AAP in Punjab.
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