A team of the vigilance bureau on Thursday accused the municipal corporation, Ludhiana, for being reluctant in sharing details of the properties of former food and supply minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in ₹2000 crore scam related to allotment of tender for transportation of grains during his tenure in the previous Congress government.
The team from Chandigarh also scanned six properties of Meenu Pankaj Malhotra, personal assistant (PA) to Ashu, in the city and conducted raids for his arrest. However, Malhotra is still absconding.
Malhotra used to run a small-time grocery shop in Jawahar Nagar area and in the past three years, he had bought properties in the prime locations of the city.
The VB also asked the city municipal corporation for the details of the properties of the former minister and his wife and councillor Mamta Ashu.
According to the vigilance officials, the MC officials are reluctant in sharing the details of the former minister. They also claimed that Ashu is not cooperating in the investigation and making excuses.
However, the MC officials were tight lipped over the issue. Despite repeated attempts, municipal commissioner Shena Aggarwal was not available for comments.
The vigilance bureau also cross-questioned contractor Telu Ram, who was arrested earlier, and Ashu face-to-face for two days. Ashu is in vigilance custody till August 27, while the local court remanded Telu Ram to 14-day judicial custody on Thursday in connection with the scam.
According to the vigilance officials, Telu Ram had submitted that he met Ashu through Malhotra for getting tenders for the season 2020-21. Malhotra told Telu Ram to meet Rakesh Kumar Singla, deputy director, food and civil supplies. Singla was Chairman of the departmental chief vigilance committee for tenders and acted at the minister’s behest, it has been alleged.
Telu Ram had informed the VB that when he met Singla, the latter demanded ₹ 30 lakhs on behalf of Ashu and on different days, he had given the bribes of ₹ 20 lakh to Singla, ₹ 6 lakh to Malhotra and similar amounts to other officers.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), vigilance bureau, Ravinderpal Singh said that a hunt is on to arrest Malhotra, former deputy director Rakesh Kumar Singla and partners of Telu Ram- Jagroop Singh and Sandeep Bhatia.
Congress workers indulge in spat with complainant
Congress workers, protesting against the vigilance action against Ashu indulged in a spat with Gurpreet Singh, the complainant in the case, and other contractors. Gurpreet alleged that the congress workers threatened and abused him. The police intervened in the matter and asked both of the groups to file their complaints.
On Thursday, Gurpreet along with other small time contractors erected tents outside the vigilance office and protested against Congress workers accusing them for pressurising vigilance bureau with intention to hamper the investigation.