It is accused of sourcing consignments from smugglers in Pakistan

The Patiala district police, which have arrested a former international sportsman-turned-drug trafficker, Jagdish Singh alias Bhola, claimed that with the connivance of political leaders, businesspersons and smugglers, he also ran an illegal weapons racket. He is in the dock for supply of synthetic as well as other drugs.

Six persons, including Bhola, functionary in the youth wing of the ruling Akali Dal Maninder Singh Bittu Aulakh, and Amritsar-based businessman Jagjit Singh Chahal, have been arrested so far. The arrested persons were allegedly in touch with smugglers in Pakistan

When investigations led to the uncovering of the illegal arms racket, in which small weapons smuggled from Pakistan were sold to unsuspecting buyers as legitimate Indian weapons, police conducted searches in the premises of those arrested and recovered four pistols. The police suspect the collusion of some arms dealers and officials of licensing authorities in the border districts of Punjab.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Patiala Hardial Singh Mann said Baljinder Singh, who was arrested along with Bhola, along the Haryana-Delhi border on November 11, was the kingpin of this arms racket. A group of smugglers had obtained several consignments from across the border. So far, this group has been responsible for smuggling 14 small weapons and 40 kg of heroin.

Mr. Mann said that with another seizure of 325 kg from another factory of Chahal, the total recoveries of precursor chemicals, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, required for the manufacture of synthetic drugs, approached a whopping metric ton, with an international market price of Rs. 1,000 crore. Meanwhile, speaking to reporters, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal reiterated the State government’s zero tolerance on drug trafficking. He said anybody involved in such anti-social and unlawful activities would not be spared. To a query regarding the involvement of an Akali Dal youth wing office-bearer in the case, Mr. Badal said the entire party could not be blamed for the unscrupulous activities and misdeeds of an individual.

Mr. Badal repeated his allegations that the drug menace in Punjab was due to the failure of the Union government in checking cross-border drug trafficking. On the other hand, spokesman of the Punjab unit of the Congress, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, said the party had urged the Chief Minister to ban the sporting of stickers of the Youth Akali Dal on vehicles to prevent misuse by drug traffickers.

He expressed concern over the “startling disclosures” made by the police that Youth Akali Dal office-bearers and other Akali leaders “used their vehicles, red beacons and gunmen to shield their racket.”

Keywords: Bhola gangsmuggling