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Timeline: Kejriwal has apologised but Punjab’s Majithia has a pretty ‘murky’ past

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He faces allegations of having links with drug smugglers in Punjab and has filed a series of defamation cases against politicians and media in this connection.

Chandigarh: Punjab’s former revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia has been in the news for the past four years, mostly for the wrong reasons.

Part of the powerful Badal family, which ruled the state for 10 years (2007-2017), Majithia is the younger brother of Union minister Harsimrat Badal, which makes him the brother-in-law of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal.

He faces allegations of having links with drug smugglers in Punjab. He has vehemently denied these charges and filed a series of defamation cases against politicians and newspapers in this connection.

In one such case, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal submitted a written apology in an Amritsar court Thursday, saying Majithia and his family had suffered a lot due to “false and baseless” accusations against him.

Blast from the past

March 2013-January 2014: Arjuna awardee wrestler and former Punjab cop Jagdish Bhola, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in an international drugs racket, told a court that Majithia was also part of the syndicate.

The case dates back to the arrest of an alleged drug smuggler Anoop Kahlon, an NRI, along with five others with 26 kg of heroin from Zirakpur in Mohali district in March 2013. Olympic bronze medalist boxer Vijender Singh and his sparring partner Ram Singh’s name cropped up during Kahlon’s questioning and the case made national headlines.

While Punjab police gave Majithia a clean chit, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) started its own probe and questioned him in December 2013 on the basis of statements given by Bhola and other accused.

January 2015: ED’s investigating officer in the case is transferred by the finance ministry. The IO, Niranjan Singh, moves the Punjab and Haryana High Court and got a stay on the transfer. On the court’s order, Niranjan Singh submitted a ‘note’ on Majithia’s role in the case in a sealed cover.

March 2016: AAP leader Ashish Khetan released statements given by the accused to the ED to the media to show Majithia’s alleged links with them.

July 2017: ED had filed six prosecution complaints (chargesheet) in the case against various accused, barring Majithia, until July last year. The probe almost reached a dead end as the agency was awaiting extradition of nine people from Canada, named by the various accused in the case.

November 2017: The probe into the allegations against Majithia was revived after an NGO, Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI), moved an application in the high court asking the ED to submit an action taken report on Majithia. The NGO also asked the court to assign the newly constituted Special Task Force (STF) of the Punjab police (against drugs) to probe Majithia’s role. The court ordered that the ED’s brief note on Majithia be shared with STF.

1 February 2018: The STF submitted its response to the ED’s note in a sealed cover. The court asked the Punjab government and ED to suggest further action to be taken in the matter.

15 March: The state government sought another four weeks to respond to the STF’s report while the ED submitted its view of the STF report to the court which was also kept in a sealed cover.

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