In an embarrassment to Punjab vigilance bureau (VB), senior government officials and local mafia booked for plundering the Sutlej basin in Jodhewal village of Ludhiana district got interim bail from a court. The case will come up for hearing on August 20.
The VB registered a first information report (FIR) on July 18 this year against deputy director of industries Vishav Bandhu, block development and panchayat officer (BDPO) Rana Pratap Singh, a retired mining officer, and two panchayat secretaries, besides Ludhiana-based mining contractor Prashant Joshi and two Jodhewal residents.
As the VB failed to make any arrest, the deputy director, BDPO, two panchayat secretaries and two residents of Jodhewal village got interim bail in the first week of August. The mining contractor is “absconding”.
Deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Mandeep Singh, an investigation officer in the case, told HT that the VB conducted raids at many places, but could not find anyone. He said the VB came to know about the interim bail through a court notice for August 20. “We will seek permission from the court to arrest them,” the DSP said.
“The accused procured the bail after their names appeared in a news report,” he said, when asked the reason for the VB’s inaction and the eventual court’s interim stay orders on their arrest.
The charges against the said officials related to corrupt practices and facilitating the mafia in plundering about 50 acres of the Sutlej river basin.
The FIR names only eight officers, though the special investigation team (SIT) had named more, including a few from the revenue and power departments. The FIR was based on the SIT report that mentioned forgery and misuse of the land-revenue record by everyone from ‘patwari’ to ‘tehsildar’. The vigilance bureau omitted the relevant sections as well as the names of these officials.
When contacted, SSP (VB, economic offenses wing), Ludhiana, Rupinder Singh said: “They have just got an interim bail. The bureau will oppose it 20, when the case will come up for hearing in the court of additional sessions judge, Ludhiana, Jaspinder Singh.”