Punjab Health Minister sacked, arrested over graft charges
CHANDIGARH: Punjab Health Minister Vijay Singla was sacked from the state Cabinet on Tuesday over graft charges, and was arrested shortly afterwards, with Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann asserting his government has zero-tolerance to corruption.
Singla’s Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Pardeep Kumar was also arrested, and both were presented before the court of Ravtesh Inderjit Singh in Mohali under heavy security, which sent them to three-day police remand.
An FIR against the two have been registered at the Mohali Phase-8 police station on a complaint by Superintending Engineer Rajinder Singh who has alleged they demanded Rs 1.16-crore bribe from the allotment of projects and a one per cent commission in all future contracts.
Chief Minister Mann himself announced Singla’s removal from the Cabinet which was sworn in just two months ago after the Aam Aadmi Party stormed to power, riding on the agenda of corruption-free governance, and other poll promises. When he was being taken out of the court, a battery of reporters asked Singla about the allegations against him. “It is a conspiracy and an attempt to defame the party,” he told them.
AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal lauded Mann for his decision and said his party will not allow any corrupt activities by its leader. Singla, a dental surgeon, was elected to the assembly from the Mansa seat, defeating Punjabi singer and Congress candidate Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, also known as Sidhu Moosewala. Official sources said Mann came to know about Singla’s alleged wrongdoings through an official 10 days ago. The CM assured the official that he was with him and that he does not need to fear anyone, the sources said.