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Punjab’s ‘Sand Mining Scam’, Which has AAP-Congress at Loggerheads

Just three months after his emphatic win in the Punjab Assembly polls, Captain Amarinder Singh’s government is battling allegations of corruption.

Uday Singh Rana | News18.com@UdaySRana

Updated:May 29, 2017, 5:50 PM IST
Punjab’s ‘Sand Mining Scam’, Which has AAP-Congress at Loggerheads
File photo of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Just three months after his emphatic win in the Punjab Assembly polls, Captain Amarinder Singh’s government is battling allegations of corruption. Rana Gurjit, the power minister in the Punjab cabinet, has been accused by the opposition Aam Aadmi Party of awarding sand mining contracts to people close to him under questionable circumstances.

A day after party chief Arvind Kejriwal interacted with the state unit in Amritsar, the AAP is planning a massive demonstration outside CM Amarinder Singh’s residence in Chandigarh.

One of the 89 contracts awarded by the Amarinder government has gone to 36-year-old Amit Bahadur, who used to work as a cook for power minister Rana Gurjit. AAP legislator from Bholath, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who is leading the charge against the Congress government, told News 18, “The man in question is Amit Bahadur, who was a cook. He has a monthly salary of just Rs 11,000. How is it that a man who makes such little money was able to procure a contract worth Rs. 26 crore? In fact, he paid Rs 13.5 crore up front. Where did he get so much money? Neither Gurjit nor Captain have answered the questions. In fact, the CM has not even said a word.”

Bahadur’s Income Tax returns, a copy of which is with News 18, show that his annual income was Rs. 75,390 in financial year 2013-14 and Rs. 92, 860 in 2015-16.

His total salary for the month of February 2017, when Congress won a landslide majority in the Punjab assembly, is shown as Rs. 11, 706. According to Khaira and the AAP, these facts point to a larger scam than just a simple conflict of interest.

Khaira added, “That it is a conflict of interest is apparent. But we need to look beyond just that. A man who earns just Rs. 11,000 has managed to pay Rs. 13.5 crore in one go. This points towards a benami and hawala racket being operated out of Punjab. At the Center of it all is a minister in the Amarinder government. I am certain that this money is from Rana Gurjit’s shady dealings. In terms of corruption, the Congress is looking to outdo even the Akalis.”

According to AAP sources, party MLAs raised the matter with Arvind Kejriwal during his Amritsar visit. A senior party leader said the Punjab MLAs’ movement against corruption in the state had received the party chief’s “blessings”.

Khaira added, “We have one straighforward demand. Unless Amarinder Singh dismisses Rana Gurjit from his cabinet by tomorrow morning, we will launch a major protest against the state government. We are all gathering in Chandigarh tomorrow, outside the CM’s residence, to protest. Unless the CM acts against his minister, we will assume that he, too, is complicit in this matter.”

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| Edited by: Mirza Arif Beg
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