The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday arrested former Punjab legislator Sukhpal Singh Khaira in connection with a money laundering case being probed against him and others.
Khaira, who won the Assembly election in 2017 from the Bholath Assembly seat in Punjab’s Kapurthala district on an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket, was taken into custody by the Central probe agency under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Speaking to reporters after his arrest when he was being taken for a medical checkup at a hospital in Chandigarh, Khaira, 56, 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. He had recently resigned from the state Assembly.
A two-time Member of Legislative Assembly, Khaira 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 ED, on 9 March 2021, raided Khaira’s properties as well as persons associated with him, in connection with a 2015 Fazilka drug smuggling case. Following the raids, ED had claimed that in about 12 years, Rs 4.86 Crore was deposited in his bank accounts but his declared income to the income tax department stood at Rs 99 lakh.
ED initiated a probe against Khaira in a 2015 drug seizure case in which nine persons were convicted in October 2017.
The case pertains to the probe in the 2015 Fazilka (Punjab) drugs-smuggling case, in which 1,800 grams of heroin, 24 gold biscuits, two weapons, 26 live cartridges and two Pakistani SIM cards were seized from a gang of international drug smugglers by security agencies.
ED claims drugs were smuggled through the India-Pakistan border and one of the kingpins of the syndicate is in the UK. “Sukhpal Singh Khaira was actively aiding and supporting the gang of international smugglers and enjoying the proceeds of crime,” the ED has alleged.