Punjab Drug Case: Is ADGP Asthana proceeded on leave under pressure?

On Saturday, ADGP SK Asthana has proceeded for a two-day leave amid the reports of pressure on the Punjab government to take action on drug cases.

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In a major development, on Saturday, Punjab Additional Director General of police and head of Bureau of Investigation SK Asthana has proceeded for two-day leave amid the reports of pressure on the Channi-led-Congress government to take action against the SAD leaders in Rs 6,000-crore synthetic drug case.

A fortnight ago, SK Asthana was appointed as Bureau of Investigation Chief to initiate the probe and arrest high-profile Shiromani Akali Dal politicians involved in drug case.

Meanwhile, SK Asthana has denied reports of being under pressure. He claimed that that he has faced much political pressure in his career but the exact reason behind his leave application is his serious ailment.

In his letter to Punjab govt, Asthana said, “It is humbly submitted that I have a medical emergency with severe atrial fibrillation of the heart leading to abnormal heart rhythm and heart rate. I have been advised by the doctor to be on complete medical rest for the next 48-hours” he reportedly said.

Asthana was supposed to meet Punjab CM Channi today to discuss the drug case. However, citing his health issues BOI Chief proceeded on leave. Also, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal had earlier alleged that Punjab CM is pressurizing the state police chief to implicate the Akali Dal leadership in the 2015 sacrilege and police firing cases.

ADGP Asthana has replaced ADGP Varinder Kumar and before him, Arpit Shukla was moved out as BoI head. “Both officials replaced before Asthana had expressed their inability to take action against a former Akali minister stating that there was nothing concrete against him on official files,” said a senior official familiar with developments.

To this development, a senior official said that the government has put enormous pressure on the BoI to take action against a former Akali minister after officials from the Special Task Force (STF) stated that they have been unable to charge any high-profile SAD politician.

The STF’s report and drug menace have remained one of the key issues in Punjab. With elections approaching and unprecedented change in guard, the ruling Congress has been under high pressure to act over the issue. PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu since long has been targeting his own government over the matter, inflicting major damage to the party’s image ahead of polls.

If sources are to be believed, the STF report contains several high profile individuals and the Channi government will try to make the names public to win the trust of Punjab voters.