The Shiromani Akali Dal-led state government in Punjab has been embroiled in controversy since November 2013, when key players in the synthetic-drug trade were arrested by the Punjab police. The arrested persons had alluded to the involvement of the state cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia, the brother-in-law of the Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, specifically naming him for his role in facilitating connections for the trade. However, even as the allegations against Majithia increased, the investigation of the case lost its momentum by 2015.
In the January 2017 cover story Under A Cloud, Hartosh Singh Bal reports on the political landscape of Punjab ahead of the assembly elections, scheduled to be conducted on 4 February. In the following extract, Bal examines the allegations of Majithia’s involvement in the Rs 6,000 crore drug racket. He accessed the statements of key accused, Jagdish Bhola and Maninder Singh Aulakh, before the Enforcement Directorate. According to these records, Majithia told Aulakh to help Satta, one of the Canada-based players involved in the trade, “for whatever business of drugs (medicines) Satta wants to do.”
In the 2008 Punjabi movie Rustam-e-Hind, Jagdish Bhola was a cast as a wrestler who never compromised the integrity of his sport. He certainly had the build and experience for the role: among other victories, he had won a silver at the 1991 Asian Wrestling Championship. He was rewarded for his achievements with an Arjuna Award and a job with the Punjab Police.