Union human resource development (HRD) minister MM Pallam Raju on Thursday assured a delegation of Punjab Congress leaders that the Centre would soon send a team to Punjab to scrutinise the alleged role of the state education department in the embezzlement of central grants.
The union minister was referring to the library book and science kit scam that was unearthed in the Punjab education department recently and which has also cast a shadow on the role of Punjab in the entire episode.
The delegation, led by Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar, held a 45-minute-long meeting with the union minister at Shastri Bhawan in New Delhi. Raju, who was accompanied by additional secretary Varinda Saroop and joint secretary Radha Chauhan, said the fact-finding team was likely to be in Punjab by next week.
The union minister also assured the delegation to probe the complaint against education minister Sikander Singh Maluka of embezzlement of funds of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA).
Jakhar had submitted a memorandum to Raju, signed on behalf of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa. The PPCC has demanded a CBI probe into the multi-crore book scam in the education department.
As per the memorandum, investigations had brought to light Rs 9.28-crore embezzlement in the supply of library books to government schools, flouting norms laid down under the SSA funds, while Rs 7.56 crore had been misappropriated under the RMSA in the supply of science kits to 756 government schools.
The memorandum stated, "The modus operandi in siphoning off, embezzling and misappropriating both central funds is similar, under the written instructions of the education minister of Punjab."
The delegation also told the union minister that under immense public pressure, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had ordered a judicial inquiry headed by a retired judge with a doubtful track record and a known close friend of the Badal family.
The delegation told Raju that the judicial inquiry was a farce and an attempt to procure the clean chit for Maluka after making some junior-level officials as scapegoats.
Other members of the delegation were MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, MLAs Charanjit Singh Channi, Tarlochan Singh Soond, Jagmohan Singh Kang, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Brahm Mohindra, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Joginder Singh, Mohammad Sadique, Parminder Singh Pinki, Charanjeet Kaur Bajwa, Guriqbal Kaur, Harchand Kaur and Congress spokesman Sukhpal Singh Khaira.