CHANDIGARH: The Shiromanoni Akali Dal expressed shock that jails minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa “batted for a gangster” during a cabinet meeting and condemned a few other ministers for displaying “insensitivity towards the menace of drugs and glorifying the use of opium”. In a statement, former minister Daljit Singh Cheema said, “It is indeed a sad day for democracy when a minister starts batting for a gangster during a cabinet meeting and tries to bully his colleagues to protect and shelter gangsters affiliated with the party.” Claiming that the entire civil society was in a state of shock after the news of Randhawa’s conduct at the cabinet meet was made public, the Akali leader said, “This conduct is a fit ground for immediate dismissal of the minister and an immediate probe into the gangster-minister nexus.”
Cheema said it was shocking that the minister had not only “derided his cabinet colleagues for not speaking up in favour of a gangster”, but also questioned why the Muktsar SSP had referred to Manpreet Manna, who had 14 cases registered against him, as a gangster. Manna was killed outside a gym at a shopping mall complex on the Bathinda road in Malout. The SAD leader also castigated the Council of Ministers for displaying total “lack of sensitivity” towards the scourge of drug addiction and “glorifying” the habit during a Cabinet meeting on December 2. He said though details of the incident had appeared earlier on social media, there were doubts of its veracity. “Now the government has not only admitted that the incident took place, but has also initiated action against two public relation employees for releasing the video clip in public domain,” he said.
Cheema said it was incredulous that action had been initiated against two state employees whose job was to record Cabinet proceedings, but no action had been initiated against the minister who listed the benefits of opium and advocated its usage or others who joined in the conversation and even discussed from where it could be procured. “How do we expect this government to take exemplary action against drug mafia when it does not regard addiction as a problem and its ministers are even advocating use of drugs,” the SAD leader asked.