ED raids AAP MLA’s house, other locations in drugs probe case - Hindustan Times
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ED raids AAP MLA’s house, other locations in drugs probe case

By, Jalandhar
Nov 01, 2023 05:40 AM IST

The ED sleuths accompanied by paramilitary personnel simultaneously raided 25 locations in Mohali, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted raids at 25 locations, including residence of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA from Mohali Kulwant Singh on Tuesday in connection with investigation into money trail that came to fore following the arrest of Ludhiana based drug lord Akshay Chhabra and his aides.

The ED officials refused to come on record over the raid. (HT File)
The ED officials refused to come on record over the raid. (HT File)

Kulwant Singh, who is the richest MLA in Punjab with assets worth 1,000 crore, joined the AAP in December 2021 and managed to get a ticket from Mohali and won a seat in the Punjab assembly in the 2022 elections. In 2015, he had managed to become the first mayor of the Mohali municipal corporation, with the support of Congress. In 2017, he joined the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). He was expelled from SAD in January 2021 for “anti-party activities” after he decided to contest the 2021 civic polls independently, where he lost.

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The ED sleuths accompanied by paramilitary personnel simultaneously raided 25 locations in Mohali, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar. The raids were conducted at premises owned by top-notch realtors and liquor barons as both ED and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) suspected Chhabra of investing drug money into real estate and liquor companies.

In November last year, the NCB arrested Chhabra along with two Afghan nationals for smuggling 2,000 kg heroin into Punjab in connivance with Dubai-based drug smuggler Haji Yusuf.

One of the ED officials said following his arrest, both NCB and ED were carrying independent investigations into the cross-border drug smuggling racket worth more than 300 crore.

“Both the agencies were extensively investigated into the trail of drug money, purported mastermind of multiple shell companies, used for movement and laundering of drug money and big investments made by Chhabra in real estate and liquor businesses in the past four years. On the basis of our investigation, we conducted raids at different locations in Punjab and confiscated key documents from several places for further detailed investigation,” said an official, seeking anonymity.

The official added that even in the NCB’s probe, it was established that Chhabra amassed money by running cross-border drug racket and established real estate companies in Mohali, Zirakpur, Ludhiana and Jalandhar.

The ED officials, however, refused to come on record over the raid.

MLA Kulwant was recently in news after Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit asked chief minister Bhagwant Mann to take “strict action” against the legislator’s real estate company whose two projects allegedly violated environmental norms.

The two projects in Mohali are being developed by Janta Land Promoters Limited (JLPL), which is owned by Singh.

Investigations revealed that Chhabra, who used to work in a chemist shop in Ludhiana, become Punjab drug kingpin in three years as he managed to procure heroin and other raw material from Afghanistan and Pakistan before he was nabbed by the NCB.

An official said Chhabra, a son of tea vendor, had connections with not only drug peddlers, including Dubai based Haji Yusuf, but companies who managed to procure contraband for him through three channels — via Jammu Kashmir, Delhi and Mundra Port, Gujarat.

Chhabra used to smuggle raw material from other countries and the Afghan nationals, pharmaceutical experts, used to make synthetic heroin at two laboratories located in Ludhiana, the investigation has revealed.

During investigation, the NCB found that Chhabra had 49 high-end properties across Punjab.

The NCB had recently arrested his brother-in-law, Sunny Verma, who used to handle his cash transactions, and recovered 79,000 Euros, suspected to be proceeds from drug trafficking activities and 2.5 kg gold bullion from him.

Following his arrest by the NCB, Chhabra disclosed that between 2020 to 2022, he had delivered around 2,000 kg heroin, received from Haji Yusuf, and earned around 60 crore.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Navrajdeep Singh is a senior staff correspondent. He covers agriculture, crime, local bodies, health and education in the Patiala district of Punjab.

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