A deputy superintendent of police who enquired into the Grand Manor Homes CLU land scam and submitted the report to local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu Monday claimed he had been “threatened” by cabinet minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Congress leader Kamaljit Singh Karwal. Balwinder Singh Sekhon, DSP, Municipal Corporation, said he has submitted a complaint with the Punjab Director General of Police (DGP).
“During the course of enquiry, I was threatened by the minister and Karwal. I got threats on phone. When I submitted my probe report on February 14, I also submitted a complaint with the DGP office against Ashu and Karwal for threatening me,” Sekhon told The Indian Express.
This comes on a day when the main opposition, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) created a ruckus in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha demanding that Ashu resign from the Cabinet even as Ministers even as the civil supplies minister offered himself for “an enquiry” by a House committee.
Ashu and Karwal have been accused of allegedly providing political patronage to property owners and creating hurdles in the enquiry by threatening probe officer. The probe was ordered by Sidhu on July 9, 2018 after a previous probe by then ADC Iqbal Singh proved that land ownership documents (registry) were allegedly forged to get the Change of Land Use (CLU) done. An audio clip purportedly of Ashu threatening the probe officer has gone viral.
The complaint, for alleged unauthorized and illegal construction of these residential flats, was made by an RTI activist, Kuldeep Singh Khaira, on January 16, 2018. Khaira was later allegedly attacked and physically assaulted by goons of the property owner and an FIR was also registered at Daba police station under sections 452, 353 and 295-A of IPC. Till date, none of the accused have been arrested in the case, said Khaira.
The RTI activist, too, moved a complaint with the DGP office in May last year alleging that he was getting threats and being pressured to enter into a compromise and withdraw the FIR. He also apprehended in his complaint that he might be booked in a false drug peddling case under the NDPS Act.
In July, Khaira was booked under Section 380 of IPC in a theft case for allegedly “stealing documents” from MC Zone-C office. The case was registered at Division No 6 police station. He moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which ordered a fresh probe into the FIR registered against him. “The case was found to be false as per enquiry conducted by an ADCP-rank officer. I am still waiting for cancellation of FIR registered against me,” he said.
The scam pertains to Grand Manor Homes – a lavish residential apartment project in Ishar Nagar (Behind Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College) in Ludhiana. With around 130 flats, costing minimum Rs 55 lakh each, the project is worth over Rs 70 crore. It is alleged that the apartments have been constructed on agricultural land for which CLU certificate was issued by Ludhiana Municipal Corporation based on forged land ownership documents.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) claims that apart from Ashu and Karwal, the probe report submitted by Sekhon also names three IAS officers and other civic body officials.
Another audio clip surfaces; Mayor says ‘political conspiracy’ ahead of LS polls
On Monday, another audio clip of a purported conversation between Punjab Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Rakesh Garg, superintending engineer (SE), Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) went viral. In the clip, Ashu and Garg can be purportedly heard talking about construction of a road on an encroached street in BRS Nagar of Ludhiana, which falls in the minister’s constituency, Ludhiana West. While the official says that road has to be constructed as per the High Court orders, the minister can be purportedly heard shouting at him and saying that instead of the court’s, the LIT official should follow his (Ashu’s) orders and stop the construction of road immediately. He even tells the official to proceed on leave if he is so scared of the court orders. Sources in the LIT said that the street lies encroached since more than two decades and whenever they try to get the road constructed, they are issued threats.
Meanwhile, calling it a “political conspiracy to defame Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha elections”, Ludhiana Mayor Balkar Singh Sandhu demanded “action against DSP Balwinder Singh Sekhon and Garg”. In a press statement Sandhu said, “Sekhon and Garg have recorded these conversations going against the protocol and service rules. We demand a thorough enquiry as to how these clips were leaked by these government officials. The timing of this episode (suggests that it has been released) to damage Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Moreover, both these officials have been closely associated with opposition parties and undersigned (Mayor) will submit a proof regarding this. These officials should explain why their services should not be suspended or terminated for gross violation of ethics. I request Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to take the strictest possible action against these officials”.
Ashu, meanwhile, said that he was not scared of any enquiry as he has done nothing wrong. “Both clips have nothing to do with each other. I have myself demanded a high level enquiry in the assembly today. The second clip has no legal authenticity and moreover, it is just about scolding an official nothing more,” he said.