Punjab's powerful Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials Friday for over four hours with regard to money-laundering links in a multi-million-rupee international synthetic drugs racket busted last year.Majithia, who is the younger brother of union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, faces allegations of having links with certain non-resident Indians (NRIs) who have been accused of international money laundering related to the massive drugs racket.Majithia arrived at the regional office of the ED in Jalandhar, 150 km from Chandigarh, around 10.30 a.m. and remained inside for over four hours.
Jalandhar police rounded up several activists of students organisation Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), who had gathered near the ED office to protest against Majithia.
ED sources said Majithia was questioned on certain links with the NRIs. He was asked several questions based on investigations done in this case by the ED."I want the truth to come out. I am ready to cooperate with any agency so that they can reach to the bottom of this thing (drugs racket links)," Majithia told media after coming out from the questioning session.The ED, a wing under the union finance ministry, had sent summons to Majithia, who is the revenue minister in the Parkash Singh Badal-led government in Punjab, to appear before it Dec 26.Punjab Police had busted the Rs.6,000-crore international synthetic drugs racket in the state in 2013. The ED conducted separate investigations in the drug racket case after serious allegations of money laundering emerged.
Majithia's name figured in the racket after the main accused in the drugs case, Jagdish Singh Bhola, a former police officer, alleged that Majithia was linked to the racket.Majithia is also the brother-in-law of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal (Harsimrat's husband).He is considered very powerful in Punjab's ruling circles due to his proximity to Sukhbir Badal.There have been demands from various quarters for Majithia's resignation on moral grounds after he was recently summoned by the ED.Chief Minister Badal, however, ruled out Majithia's resignation.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been running an alliance government with the Akali Dal in Punjab since 2007, has also left the Badal government and the Akali Dal embarrassed after it sought Majithia's resignation this week.The ED summons to Majithia was an embarrassment for the Badal government as the central government is BJP-led and Harsimrat Badal is the Akali Dal representative in it.
Though Majithia's name started figuring in the racket last year, when the Congress-led UPA government was in power at the Centre, the summons were finally sent by the ED only now after the BJP government came to power.The Badals are considered close to union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who unsuccessfully contested the Amritsar Lok Sabha poll in April-May this year from the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency at the behest of the Badal-Majithia combine.The opposition Congress also sought the immediate resignation of Majithia.