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'There is mafia raj in Punjab': Congress MP

By PRASANNA D ZORE
August 03, 2020 09:11 IST
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'The chief minister has said on the floor of the House that he knows everything (about the criminal-politician mafia).'
'If you know about this nexus, why aren't you acting against them?'
'Ask him why is he so helpless.'

IMAGE: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at Parliament House in New Delhi. Photograph: Subhav Shukla/PTI Photo

Congress MP Shamsher Singh Dullo has been demanding a probe by a sitting high court judge or the Central Bureau of Investigation against allegations of a police-politician-criminal nexus in Punjab.

Dullo has been raising this issue with Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh since March. While the Singh government appointed a three-member special investigation team under state Resources Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Dullo feels nothing will come out of it because Sarkaria himself is a liquor contractor.

Ask him about the Punjab CM's response to his letter, Dullo says "Agar koi response hota to aaj yeh logon ka katl-e-aam na hota (If he had acted on my request there would be no open massacre of people today)", referring to the deaths of 98 people in a spurious liquor tragedy.

"If the government had acted against these mafias, then we would not have had to see this day."

On July 30, Dullo -- a member of the Rajya Sabha -- had raised the issue with Congress President Sonia Gandhi at a video conference she called with the Congress's Rajya Sabha MPs.

"I spoke what I had to. Let's see what happens. She has to take a decision," the 73-year-old MP tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.

A month ago you had demanded a probe either by a sitting high court judge or by the CBI to expose the illegal liquor mafia in Punjab. Now you have almost 98 deaths across Punjab because of consumption of spurious liquor.
Why do you want a probe by a sitting high court judge or by the CBI and not by a Punjab police special investigation team?
Don't you trust your own government conducting a free and fair probe?

I have been requesting the chief minister for a probe into the illegal manufacturing of liquor, smuggling and bootlegging.

The Punjab police had busted six illegal distilleries some months ago. They were selling spurious liquor, such poison in every small village in Punjab.

Several people have been dying in the state after consuming this poisonous alcohol. But no action has been taken against anybody involved in this racket.

Why no action has yet been taken against the manufacturers and distributors of such illegal liquor is Punjab's biggest mystery today.

What was Captain Amarinder Singh's response to your letter?

Agar koi response hota to aaj yeh logon ka katl-e-aam na hota (If he had acted on my request there would be no massacre of people today).

If the government had acted against these mafias, then we would not have had to see this day.

Are you suggesting that Captain Amarinder Singh is not acting against the liquor mafia in Punjab?

Please understand that there is an open nexus between police-politicians-smugglers-and-the mafia in Punjab. All these elements are in it together.

Those in the party (Congress), possibly from the Opposition too... but the nexus cannot be ignored now. Now

is the time for the Punjab government to act or else people will stop having faith in the party (Congress).

There are so many mafias in Punjab and all of them are well-rooted.

Be it the liquor mafia, mining mafia, land mafia, they are all ruling the state.

There is a mafia raj in Punjab.

Are these mafias more powerful than a popularly elected chief minister?

The question is not that. The chief minister also is the excise and taxation minister, home minister (according to the Punjab government Web site Captain Amarinder Singh holds 22 portfolios); the police is under his jurisdiction; so is the excise administration.

Lekin yeh aankhe moond kar ke baithe hai (and yet Captain Amarinder Singh is ignoring such deaths and not acting against those involved in these departments).

These mafias are poisoning Punjab.

You are casting aspersions against the chief minister of your own party!

If I am a true Congressman, then I would never support those in the party out to ruin the party and its image.

Shamsher Singh Dullo is not with the mafia!

These people (those who have connections with the liquor mafia) are those who have defected to the Congress from other parties and who have assumed important positions now.

We were blaming the Akalis (the principal Opposition party in Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal), but what is happening now?

People voted the Congress to power to take on such mafias. But we are not doing what we promised.

Do you think the people of Punjab are not seeing what is happening now in the state?

I am speaking against the mafia and their supporters because I want to save the party in the state.

I am a true Congressman and I will never bow down to those who are out to destroy it.

These defectors will come and go, but loyalists will always stay with the party.

Are you now blaming the defectors for running the mafia-raj in Punjab?

The chief minister publicly says he knows everything (about the criminal-politician mafia).

If you know about this nexus, why aren't you acting against them?

He has said that in the House (the Punjab assembly). If you know about this nexus, then why are you so helpless?

Why do you think is the CM so helpless?

The Punjab police has busted two illegal distilleries in Patiala. Captain Amarinder Singh is an MLA from Patiala and his wife is an MP from here. You can ask the CM why he is so helpless against the liquor mafia.

The Punjab CM had appointed a three-member SIT under Resources Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria to investigate the liquor mafia? What has come out of it?

Sarkaria to aap sharab ka thekedar hai (Sarkaria is himself a liquor contractor). The minister himself has been a liquor contractor for many, many, years.

Yeh kya action lenge? (What action will they take?)

Do you expect a fair, independent and impartial enquiry with such people at the helm of this SIT?

I had openly and repeatedly raised these issues during meetings of all MPs and MLAs of Punjab. But still this (the hooch tragedy that has till now killed 98 people) has happened.

Do you believe that the probe either by the CBI or a high court judge would be fair and impartial?

A SIT (usually) comprises IAS and IPS officers or by a sitting high court judge. This is the first time that an SIT is headed by a politician, and a minister at that. Have you seen such SITs in any other state?

Have you brought this issue to the notice of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi?

I have told this to Madam (Sonia Gandhi) during a video conference with her (on July 30; when she had called this meeting of all Congress Rajya Sabha MPs) that Punjab is being ruled by the mafia.

So even the Congress president knows about this, but yet there is no action against the mafia raj in the state?

I did tell her. I have also written letters to her saying the same.

What was her reaction?

How would I know her reaction during a video conference? I spoke what I had to. Let's see what happens. She has to take a decision.

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PRASANNA D ZORE / Rediff.com
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