Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Saturday said that the status of gangster Goldy Brar, the mastermind of singer Sidhu Moose Wala’s murder who he claimed has been detained in the US, remains a “top secret”. Authorities in the state are coordinating with international agencies to bring him to justice, he added, even though reports have emerged that Goldy Brar may not have been detained at all.
“We are in touch with FBI,” Mr Mann said, “Very soon, we will reach an understanding. It is a foreign country, we have to go by their laws… We can’t give more details on Goldy Brar right now, it’s top secret.”
Punjab’s Opposition parties have demanded clarity, with Shiromani Akali Dal being the first to ask why the state police chief had not announced “the detention, if any”.
Bhagwant Mann made the announcement at an election rally in Gujarat on December 2.
Less than a week later, in a purported interview over the phone to a senior journalist who runs a YouTube channel, Satinder Singh alias Goldy Brar claimed that he had left Canada and also the US long ago.
Since then, questions have got louder, and more clarity is awaited from Punjab’s AAP government.
Among questions Bhagwant Mann addressed today — speaking at an NDTV conclave as he completed nine months in power — was one about the wider law-and-order situation. Punjab has seen two high-profile murders in about a month, besides Sidhu Moose Wala’s killing just two months after AAP won a massive mandate.
“Law and order is under control,” Mr Mann said, “You have to understand that Punjab is a border state. From the [Pakistan] side, even drones are being used to send illegal things, such as weapons.”
In a dig at rivals, he said, “Speak about ‘gangster culture’ — that has not developed over the last seven-eight months. Those who are responsible for it now claim to be keeping a tab on how the law-and-order situation is.”
Chief Minister on “revdi/papad”
He also countered rivals, particularly the BJP, on “freebies” or “financially unviable” subsidies, which PM Narendra Modi has called “muft ki revdi” (free sweets).
Mr Mann said money for subsidies could be generated by plugging leakages and ending corruption, and cited “an example” from AAP boss Arvind Kejriwal-led government in Delhi. “He showed how a bridge for which a budget of Rs 350 crore was okayed could be built in Rs 150 crore. That Rs 200 crore he saved could then be used for free medicines in Delhi,” he claimed.
“The 300 free units (of electricity) are not ‘revdi’. When we collect tax from the public, we are supposed to return it in some form,” he argued.
#MannToNDTV | “’Free ki revdi’? Did we say Rs 15 lakhs would be deposited in each account? Who did this ‘jumla’?“: Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann (@BhagwantMann) at NDTV’s ‘#SaddaPunjab‘ event pic.twitter.com/fp12YdXNtf
— NDTV (@ndtv) December 17, 2022
“If PM Modi calls that ‘free ki revdi’ , then who sold the ‘papad’ of ‘Rs 15 lakh in every Indian’s bank account?” he added, referring to Narendra Modi’s promise to bring back black money.