The Punjab government on Tuesday suspended Ludhiana municipal commissioner Malwinder Singh Jaggi after a preliminary inquiry found him guilty of misusing his official position to 'punish' a vendor who had asked the officer's wife to pay for vegetables.
Following the HT report, 'Offended, officer's wife makes vendor pay' (July 14), an inquiry had been ordered into last week's incident. After receiving the probe report from HS Dhillon, additional director general of police (ADGP, intelligence), Punjab, the state government took action against Jaggi, a PCS (Punjab Civil Service) officer. The government has also ordered a fact-finding inquiry, to be conducted by the divisional commissioner, Patiala, AS Pannu.
Last Wednesday, Jaggi's wife Inderbir Kaur had visited a vend in Dandi Swami Chowk, from where she had been buying vegetables for the past decade. In the absence of vend owner Kamlesh Pal, his nephew Sukhbir was running the shop. The youth asked Inderbir to pay for the vegetables. Taking offence, she allegedly threatened him with dire consequences.
An hour later, a team of the municipal corporation's tehbazari wing (which penalises hawkers and vendors for violations) arrived at the spot and ransacked the vend. Corporation workers returned on Thursday as well as Friday and allegedly told the vend owner to apologise to the MC commissioner's wife.
Jaggi is now circulating an affidavit purportedly signed by Kamlesh, mentioning that the woman who visited the vend was not the officer's wife. However, Kamlesh said, "I have given no such statement. Some people made me sign on blank paper on the pretext of facilitating a compromise. I was not even present at the vend during the incident."
Talking to Hindustan Times on Tuesday, Sukhbir said the MC commissioner's wife had threatened that she would get the vend removed. "Every day, after ransacking the vend, I heard workers of the tehbazari wing talking to Inderbir on the phone to give her the 'daily report'," he added.
The suspension order was handed over to Jaggi while he was in Chandigarh for a meeting on the Ludhiana Metro project on Tuesday. Additional commissioner Ajay Sood has been given the charge of acting MC commissioner.
Soon after getting the suspension order, Jaggi 'orchestrated' a pen-down strike in all four zones of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (LMC) on Tuesday, a senior LMC official said on the condition of anonymity.
About 50 employees from the four zones gathered outside the Zone A office and raised slogans against the state government. The protesters demanded that the government revoke Jaggi's suspension. Safai karamcharis, too, began an indefinite strike.
Jaggi also approached Rohit Sabharwal, president of the Council of RTI Activists, asking him to issue a statement in his (Jaggi's) favour. "Council members did not oblige him as we were the ones who had observed a strike against him for encouraging corrupt practices in the MC," Sabharwal said. Meanwhile, a group of Congress councillors held the BJP responsible for 'framing' the commissioner.
Jaggi was the zonal commissioner, Ludhiana, when he was transferred to Moga on the orders of the Election Commission in October last year. However, he returned two days later to occupy the same post. It is learnt that some councillors and MC contractors from Ludhiana persuaded the higher authorities to revoke the transfer. In December, Jaggi became the municipal commissioner.