With a view to weed out corruption from the Lok Sabha constituency, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Bhagwant Mann has decided to start a 24X7 helpline for residents to inform him if any officer from the district administration or the police department demands bribe from them.
After collecting information about the officer seeking bribe, he says he will himself approach the officer with the bribe money and take action on the spot.
Talking exclusively to Hindustan Times, Mann said, “Corrupt practices are very common in our system, especially in the police department. After repeated complaints by residents, I have decided to provide them my contact number to inform him directly if anyone demands bribe from them.”
“I have taken this step after three people from Malerktola subdivision approached me to inform me that a few officials of the excise department, posted at Moonak toll barrier, had taken Rs. 20,000 as bribe to release their vehicle in which they were taking cattle feed from Hisar (Haryana),” he said, adding, “I immediately took details of the officials and probed the matter. An official admitted that they had taken a bribe of Rs. 20,000 from three farmers Labh Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Jang Singh of Jahner Kalan village of Malerkotla subdivision on July 9.”
“I managed to get back the money from them and returned it to the farmers, but now I have decided to take a solid step in this direction and, now I will give my own contact number to the residents to inform me if any officer demands a bribe from them,” the AAP MP said.
When contacted, farmer Labh Singh told the Hindustan Times that, on July 19 at around 12:15 pm, they were returning after purchasing cattle feed from Hisar, excise officials stopped them at the toll barrier and asked to pay Rs. 40,000 besides Rs. 1,400 as other taxes”.
“We were having only Rs. 14,000 with us that we paid to them. However, they released our vehicle on the condition that Rs. 6,000 will be paid the next day. However, when the excise official reached us to take the remaining Rs. 6,000, we informed Bhagwant Mann, who inquired into the whole matter and recovered the money from him.”
However, excise and taxation officer (ETO) Amarnath, who was posted Moonak toll barrier, said “We have received a complaint against constable Darshan Singh and we have sent him back to the Punjab police.”
ETO, however, refused to order any probe to find out the involvement of other officials saying, “I don’t have more information about this, but I got a complaint and took action immediately against the constable.”