September 23, 2021 6:41:07 am
THE AAM Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday launched a sharp attack on several former ministers of the Capt Amarinder Singh Cabinet over allegations of corruption and released documents pertaining to the alleged culpability of Sadhu Singh Dharamsot in the post matric SC scholarship ‘scam’.
AAP released a September 2020 letter written by Devinder Singh, an IAS officer who was then director of the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment and Minorities, to the Chandigarh SSP seeking an FIR against several officials of the department in connection with the scam, which it said led to a loss of Rs 8 crore for the department.
Dharamsot was minister of this department and though his own additional chief secretary Kripa Shankar Saroj had blamed him for irregularities, Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan had given him a clean chit based on a report by a committee formed to look into the allegations.
The letter identified Deputy Director Parminder Singh Gill, Superintendent Rajinder Chopra, Senior Assistant Rakesh Arora, Senior Assistant Baldev Singh, Deputy Controller Finance and Administration Charanjit Singh and Section Officer Mukesh Bhatia as the officials responsible for “cheating, fraud and forgery”.
Speaking to mediapersons here Wednesday, Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema said “the Punjab government did not follow up on its own investigations into the scam and allowed guilty officials and the minister to get away”. He said that despite the CBI also lodging a preliminary enquiry into the scam and writing to the Punjab government in July this year seeking documents, the same had not yet been provided.
Cheema released documents which he said showed that officials of the department of social welfare connived with certain educational institutions and released approximately Rs 8 crore to them as post-matric scholarship for SC students, in contravention of rules.
According to the documents, among the educational institutions from whom recovery was sought to be made for “overpayment of scholarship amount” were: Universal Polytechnic College Lalru, Universal Education Society Group of Institutes Lalru, Regional Polytechnic College, A&M Institute of Management and Technology, Saraswati Polytechnic College, Shaheed Udham Singh College of Engineering and Technology, Lord Krishna Polytechnic College, CGC Tech Campus Jhanjeri, Modern College of Education Bir Kalan, Desh Bhagat Foundation of Institutions Moga, KCL Institute of Management Technology Jalandhar, Sai Polytechnic College, St Soldier Group of Institutions and Ludhiana Group of Colleges-Polytechnic.
Cheema said that even though Kripa Shankar Saroj “has presented incontrovertible proof that the minister as involved in the scam”, the state government failed to act. “The fact that the social justice department itself had written to the Chandigarh Police asking for an FIR to be lodged in the scam shows that there was more to it than meets the eye. However, the then chief minister (Capt Amarinder Singh) shielded the accused and senior bureaucrats tied to blame the additional chief secretary instead,” said Cheema.
Apart from Dharamsot, Cheema also attacked former ministers Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Sundar Sham Arora, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi and Balbir Singh Sidhu. “It is a test for new chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi and the Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu to decide whether to get FIRs registered against these ministers and put them in jail in the interest of Punjab or prove themselves to be ‘Ali Baba’ like Captain Amarinder Singh,” said Cheema.
In its letter dated July 27, 2021, the CBI had sought several documents from the principal secretary, department of social justice, empowerment and minorities including a copy of a letter written by Kripa Shankar Saroj to Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan on August 24, 2020, along with its enclosures.
The CBI also asked for documents vide which funds pertaining to post matric scholarship scheme for SC students in Punjab were received by the Punjab government from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India.
It also asked for copies of documents through which the scholarship funds were disbursed in Punjab. The CBI letter, signed by Ashwin Shenvi, head of CBI’s Anti-Corruption Branch, Chandigarh, also demanded copies of documents pertaining to end use report, if any, submitted by the Punjab government to the Government of India.
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