Chandigarh, March 8, 2020 (Yes Punjab News)
In a rare move, two Congress Rajya Sabha members and former PPCC presidents – Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo – today met Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnaur, against their own party’s government in the state seeking action against Liquor Mafia.
The two MPs submitted a written memorandum to the Governor.
Speaking to the media persons outside Raj Bhavan here, Bajwa and Dullo said they were fighting for the cause of people of Punjab. They said that they would be bringing the matter into the notice of party high command and also meet Prime Minister and Home Minister seeking CBI inquiry into the matter.
Following is the text of the Memorandum handed over by them to the Governor.
H.E. SH. V. P. SINGH BADNORE,
Sh. Shamsher Singh Dullo and I, are writing this letter to highlight the existence of the liquor mafia in Punjab and seeking immediate and strict action against them.
For several months now, the loss to the public exchequer due to smuggling of liquor by licensed distilleries, functioning of illegal distilleries and production of spurious liquor in Punjab has been in the news. We have raised this issue as it shows a clear-cut failure of the administrative machinery in the State. We have written letters to the Hon’ble Chief Minister as well as spoken publicly, seeking action against the people guilty of committing these offences but till date no action has been taken against the real culprits.
There has been blatant smuggling of liquor from Punjab to other states especially during the COVID lockdown period. This has resulted in the massive loss of revenue to the state of Punjab. The revenue is meant for the public exchequer and any intentional losses/corruption in the same are nothing short of treachery against the public for whose benefit this amount would be utilised.
The losses in the revenue generation caused due to the smuggling of liquor is to the tune of ₹ 2700 crores. Obviously, this could not have been done without the consent/connivance of bureaucrats including Police, Excise officials and Politicians in power.
Not only this, the functioning of illegal distilleries in Punjab is also a major problem. The first illegal distillery was found at Khanna, the second at Rajpura and the third at Ghanaur. Interestingly, Rajpura and Ghanaur are both part of Patiala which is the home district of the Chief Minister and the Parliamentary constituency of his wife.
The functioning of illegal distilleries in the home district of the Chief Minister speaks volumes of lawlessness and administrative failure of the government.
The tragic deaths of more than 112 people till date has taken place due to consumption of spurious liquor was bound to happen. Allegations have been levelled against the liquor mafia where these illegal distilleries were supplying ethanol which was used for production of spurious liquor.
The death of these persons, is not a mere accident but cold-blooded murder committed due to the greed of the mafia. The liquor mafia have escaped the clutches of law with impunity and are well connected to those in power.
This nexus has allowed their actions to go unchecked and unregulated. Spurious liquor was being manufactured and sold all over the state. However, neither the Excise Department nor the Police Department were aware of the same.
The Chief Minister, Punjab heads the Excise and Taxation Department as well as the Home Department. Smuggling, functioning of illegal distilleries, production and circulation of spurious liquor cannot be done without the active connivance of officers of Excise and Taxation Department as well as Police Department. All our efforts to get these criminals reined in were ignored. The Chief Minister and his team chose to disregard these issues when they were highlighted by us.
The recent deaths in several districts due to consumption of spurious liquor clearly shows that what we had been trying to highlight before the media as well as in our letters were absolutely correct.
The officers of Excise and Taxation Department and the Police Department have chosen to be a part of this mafia and have been lining their own pockets while protecting the kingpins. Money must have exchanged hands between the mafia and officers within these departments. Otherwise strict action would have been taken on this issue when we publicly raised the same.
The Enforcement Directorate started investigating the functioning of illegal distilleries recently. It was highlighted in the media that every effort was made by the Police Department to create hurdles in their investigation. Till date, the documents sought by the Enforcement Directorate for their investigation have not been handed over to them by the Police Department which clearly shows the connivance of the Police officials.
The Police officials are well aware that if the Enforcement Directorate is allowed to conduct a free and fair investigation, the big fish would be nabbed, which would unmask the failures of the State Police.
It has been highlighted in the media that after the news of such a large number of deaths broke out, the administration swung into action and even the senior Police officers played a vital role in arresting the culprits. It is our firm belief that the major culprits are still free. Governance lies in preventing crime and not in merely arresting the front individuals.
The Chief Minister of the State is clearly unaware of what is going on in his own district. The officers of the Excise and Police Departments are not aware of the same and both of these departments are headed by the Chief Minister himself. It needs to be pointed out that no fair investigation on State Departments could ever be conducted by officers from the same department. A fair probe is highly unlikely in this situation.
The Chief Minister claims to have acted against the liquor mafia over the last few months on basis of some FIRs registered all over the State. However, had the Police and Excise officials acted effectively, the manufacture and circulation of illegal liquor would have stopped and all the real culprits would be imprisoned.
Therefore, we request your good self to send a recommendation to the Government of India to let the Central Bureau of Investigation as well as the Enforcement Directorate investigate the production and distribution of illegal
liquor in Punjab. It is high time that the culprits are booked, prosecuted and punished. An impartial probe is essential into the different departments to ensure justice to the people of the State.
We had initially requested for an enquiry by a Judge of the Hon’ble High Court but now evidently, a much deeper investigation is needed by a central investigative agency which would conduct the investigation in an impartial manner and not merely an enquiry.
Hence, an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation as well as the Enforcement Directorate would be needed in this case.
SHAMSHER SINGH DULLO PARTAP SINGH BAJWA
MP, Rajya Sabha MP, Rajya Sabha
Former President, PPCC Former President, PPCC