Punjab is much affected by the national and international nexus of drug trafficking. It has been a bone of contention for parties contesting elections in the state. Many celebrities frequently raise awareness campaigns against drugs and ways to rehabilitate the large chunk of addicted youth.
In recent years due to media glare and the clamor to take proactive steps to combat this problem, several high-profile arrests have also been made, and quite surprisingly, now it allegedly also involves the former revenue minister of Punjab- Bikram Singh Majithia.
On January 6, 2014, the arrested kingpin of a 1000-cr drug racket Jagdish Singh Bhola claimed during a hearing at a Mohali court that Majithia was also involved in the black business along with him.
A can of worms was opened throughout the state. Until then, life was going pretty smoothly for the politician, laden with great connections and influential relationships; he also happens to be the brother-in-law of the former deputy chief minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Naturally, the allegations pockmarked his career, and the Congress composed of the Opposition then with 44 MLAs, went on the warpath over this.
In 2017 before the Assembly elections, both the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress raked up the scandal as a rallying point. Arvind Kejriwal asked every day about the culprit while Amarinder Singh even swore by the holy Gutka Sahib that if elected, he would break the back of the illegal racket within four weeks.
Suddenly, it appeared that everyone wanted Majithia behind the bars even though the allegations were yet to be proved.
After the Congress came to power in 2017 however, the campaign which had been going full steam so far, got all the fizz taken out of it when Amarinder Singh proved reluctant to follow up on his oath. He did constitute a Special Task Force, and an eventual report was compiled but not made public.
No action was taken, and dissatisfaction bubbled up among Amarinder’s own party, some of whom got together and rebelled against him. An old fear among the Congress party members was realized who had often said that not taking any action against Majithia would lead to disaster because it was a pre-poll promise.
Moreover, a grand gesture in Punjab, especially one taken in the name of a holy book, is a big deal when broken.
Charanjit Singh Channi, the new chief minister of Punjab, has finally decided a proactive approach to the situation is the best way to both preserve his seat as well as restore some semblance of law and order in the worst affected areas in his state.
The people are getting increasingly frustrated as hundreds of lives have been ruined, and in Channi’s own words, many mothers have lost their sons and daughters to it already. Hence a case has been registered at Mohali and with all luck, if the ex-minister turns out to be an accomplice of the dreaded druglord, justice will also follow swiftly.
As of now there are only allegations and the testimony of Jagdish Singh Bhola to work on, but there is hope something substantial will come out of it. Needless to say, this has once again opened a new can of worms in Punjab. Amarinder Singh, still smarting over his dethroning now, grumbles about the new government being unfair to Majithia, a man whom he had once indirectly sworn to put behind bars.
The Shiromani Akali Dal, whose MLA Majithia has come out all guns blazing claiming vendetta politics is on the rise in Punjab. Whether it all goes downhill from here or up the path of righteousness is yet to be seen.