Two months after the registration of a case in the Rs 1.15-crore rural grants scam, the Punjab Police are yet to arrest Sarbhdyal Singh, the main accused and personal assistant to cabinet minister Gulzar Singh Ranike.
A deeper look into the case proceedings revealed that the entire probe was shifted from the three-member special investigation team (SIT) to Amritsar (Rural) SSP Pritipal Singh on the orders of DGP Sumedh Singh Saini within two days of the lodging of FIR on June 25.
Sarbhdyal had met the DGP a day after being booked in the case and pleaded innocence, following which Saini ordered to shift the entire probe to the Amritsar (Rural) SSP.
The then Amritsar police commissioner, RP Mittal, had constituted an SIT comprising additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP) Amrik Singh Pawar, assistant commissioner police (ACP) Gurnam Singh and SHO Sukhwinder Singh of the Civil Lines police station in Amritsar, where the FIR was lodged.
But it was on July 7 that the entire record was handed over from the Civil Lines police station to the SSP on the DGP's orders.
Curiously, Pawar and Gurnam did not sign on any of the documents relating to the probe before the case was handed over to the SSP.
"We are still looking for the accused," Pritipal told HT on the phone from Amritsar when asked about the update of the case proceedings. He said the challan would be presented in court only after Sarbhdyal's arrest.
Asked why the accused was roaming freely in Amritsar despite a lookout notice against him, the SSP said the police were not able to trace him. "We are keen to arrest him," said the SSP.
Civil Lines police station SHO Sukhwinder Singh said he was now dependent on the inputs from the SSP. The SHO, who is legally the investigation officer (IO) in the case, is out of the loop as far as the inquiry is concerned. "I have to present the challan, but that will be done only after I get the fresh probe report from the SSP," the SHO said.
(Tomorrow: Poverty-stricken villages await funds)
One arrest so far
Before the probe was shifted to the Amritsar (Rural) SSP, the police had already arrested Om Parkash, the branch manager of Bank of Maharashtra who remained in police custody for five days and was later released on bail. The grants were embezzled through fake accounts opened in this bank in the name of panchayats in connivance with bank officials.
JUNE 25: Case registered against Sarbhdyal, the main accused, and others under sections 406, 409 (embezzlement of public money), 419,420, 467, 468, 471 (cheating, forgery, fabrication of documents) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC on Amritsar deputy commissioner Rajat Aggarwal's recommendation
JUNE 27: DGP Sumedh Saini marks entire probe to Amritsar (Rural) SSP Pritipal Singh
JUNE 27: Amritsar police commissioner RP Mittal constitutes SIT for probe
JULY 7: Entire case file handed over to the SSP by the SHO for a fresh inquiry