The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday arrested former Punjab MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira in connection with a money laundering case linked to an alleged drug racket being probed against him and others, officials said. They said Khaira, 56, was taken into custody by the central probe agency in Punjab under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
He was produced before a special PMLA court in Mohali where the ED will seek his remand. The agency had raided the premises of Khaira in Chandigarh, his son-in-law Inderveer Singh Johal in Delhi and that of some linked persons in March this year.
The ED has alleged that Khaira is an “associate” of drug case convicts and fake passport racketeers.
The politician has denied any wrongdoing and said he is being targeted by central agencies as he has been vocal against the Centre’s three new farm laws. Punjab goes to assembly polls early next year. He had recently resigned from the state assembly.
Khaira won the assembly election in 2017 from the Bholath Assembly seat in Punjab’s Kapurthala district on an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket.
He resigned from the primary membership of the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP in January 2019 and floated his own outfit, the Punjab Ekta Party. He then re-joined the Congress.
The case against Khaira pertains to the ED probe in a 2015 Fazilka (Punjab) drugs smuggling instance in which 1,800 gms of heroin, 24 gold biscuits, two weapons, 26 live cartridges, and two Pakistani SIM cards were seized by security agencies from a gang of international drug smugglers. The ED had filed the case under criminal sections of the PMLA after studying a Punjab Police FIR.
“The drugs were smuggled through the India-Pakistan border and one of the kingpins of the syndicate is in the UK…. Khaira was actively aiding and supporting the gang of international smugglers and enjoying the proceeds of crime,” the agency had alleged.