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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Punjab technocrat’s sting operation lands former AAP minister Vijay Singla in jail

Vijay Singla arrested: Sources said Rajinder Singh had complained to the chief minister’s office about the bribe demand nearly two weeks ago.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 25, 2022 12:06:33 pm
Sacked Punjab health minister Vijay Singla being taken to the Civil Hospital in Mohali for medical check-up, on Tuesday. (Express photo by Jasbir Malhi)

The sting operation that cost former Punjab health minister Vijay Singla his place in the cabinet and landed him in jail was conducted by a technocrat, superintending engineer Rajinder Singh, who is on deputation with Punjab Health System Corporation.

According to the police complaint filed by Singh, he was called by Singla’s OSD Pardeep Kumar to Room Number 203 at Punjab Bhawan about a month ago. There Singla had allegedly told Singh that any instruction from the OSD had the approval of the minister himself.

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The complainant was apparently told that he had allotted construction works worth Rs 41 crore and the contractors were released payments to the tune of Rs 17 crore in March itself. Singh alleged that the former minister’s OSD then sought a two per cent commission amounting to Rs 1 crore and 16 lakh out of the total sum of Rs 58 crore.

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“I told him that I am not able to do this and they may send me back to my original department. After that he kept calling me on WhatsApp… on May 8, May 10, May 12, May 13 and May 23. He kept demanding money and I was threatened that my career would be ended if I did not pay them bribe. I prayed to them that I was due to retire on November 30 this year and my career should not be destroyed and I am ready to be repatriated to my department so that they can get anyone else posted in my place.

“After that on May 20, he told me that I should pay a lump sum of Rs 10 lakh and afterwards, I should pay them 1 per cent commission in all works. I told them that I have only Rs 2.5 lakh in my account and another Rs 3 lakh, so I can pay them Rs 5 lakh to spare myself the harassment. On May 23, I got a call from Pardeep Kumar asking me to come to the Civil Secretariat. I went there and offered them Rs 5 lakh and asked them where should I hand them the money,” the complainant said in the FIR registered against the minister.

Singh recorded Monday’s conversation in which Singla allegedly asked him to pay the money to Kumar.

Sources said Singh had complained to the chief minister’s office about the bribe demand nearly two weeks ago. The matter was brought to the notice of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who asked the superintending engineer to plan a sting operation and record the minister and the OSD taking the bribe. After the recording was produced before Mann, the chief minister decided to sack the minister from his cabinet and hand him over to the police.

A complaint was made to Punjab Police at 11:05am Tuesday and the FIR was registered at 11:38am against Singla and Kumar under Section 7 and 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Mann’s video message on sacking the minister was released to the media at 12:55pm. The sacked minister was later arrested and taken to Phase-8 police station in Mohali.

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