The fire that broke out in the arms branch of the Tarn Taran deputy commissioner’s office on Saturday has raised suspicions of conspiracy, as documents sought by the vigilance bureau in an ongoing probe were reportedly gutted in it.
The Punjab vigilance bureau (VB) had recently initiated a probe into the alleged large-scale fabrication of official records for issuing arms licences in lieu of bribe.
Top sources in the VB told HT that the investigating team had demanded some relevant documents from the Tarn Taran deputy commissioner’s office. Although some of these records were provided to the vigilance team, the remaining documents were to be produced on Monday, said sources.
After the fire on Saturday, deputy commissioner (DC) Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal had claimed that none of the important records were gutted in it. However, when the VB team sought the remaining documents on Monday, the DC office informed them that those got destroyed in the fire, said sources. In fact, after the fire, a senior official of the district administration had contacted mediapersons and told them not to highlight the “minor” incident as “important documents are not damaged”.
Book branch in-charge: BJP
BJP district unit also raised the issue during a press conference on Tuesday. District president Navreet Singh Shafipur alleged that a can containing kerosene had also been recovered from the records room after the incident. “It proves that somebody from the office deliberately burnt the records,” he said.
“Patronised by a section of political leaders, gangsters, who are creating havoc across the state, get arms licences through corrupt officials. They are the ones who benefited from this fire that destroyed relevant records,” he said, while demanding branch in-charge Rakesh Kumar be booked and interrogated.
The branch has remained in controversy for a long time. In September last year, head clerk Karvinder Singh Cheema, computer operator Sukhdev Singh and former clerk (arms) Jasbir Singh of the DC office were booked for fabricating documents for issuing arms licences.
Deputy commissioner Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal failed to respond to repeated calls on Tuesday.