VB detects ‘shady deals’ involving Navjot Sidhu, wife, aides
At a time when former Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has been strenuously slamming chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on a variety of issues, the Punjab Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau has fast-tracked its investigation into some ‘shady deals’ involving the Sidhu couple and their close associates. The agency comes under the direct control of the chief minister.
The focus of the vigilance bureau (VB) is on some controversial decisions taken during the tenure of Sidhu as local bodies minister when Sidhu’s wife and former MLA Navjot Kaur, Sidhu’s close friend and his OSD Bunny Sandhu, Navjot Kaur’s personal assistant Gaurav Vasudeva and clerk Rajiv Kumar allegedly colluded to favour certain firms.
Even as these leads are not new with the VB as the agency was already zeroing in on them ever since Sidhu resigned from the Amarinder cabinet on July 14, 2019, after he was stripped off the local bodies portfolio and allotted power department. However, the agency learnt to have given a fresh push to probe the cases.
The timing of the VB probe is being questioned as Sidhu is hitting out at the chief minister almost daily through social media on different issues. At least seven ministers from Amarinder cabinet have already sought action against Sidhu for his outbursts.
As per officials privy to the probe, earlier the focus of the probe was limited to certain “deals” done during Sidhu’s tenure as minister in Zirakpur and Nayagaon, but now more instances have been identified where financial favours were allegedly given by the Sidhus to their near and dear ones.
On Saturday, Amritsar SSP (VB) Parampal Singh met his superiors in Chandigarh and submitted a detailed report on some “murky deals”.
The SSP during his probe had found more than five shady deals, a senior VB official involved in the probe said. The findings involve allotment of a booth for peanuts to Navjit Kaur (wife of Navjot Kaur’s PA Gaurav Vasudeva), discrepancies in allotment of advertisement tenders to a company owned by Vasudeva and flooring tender given again to yet another firm owned by Vasudeva.
‘Navjot Kaur paid ₹1 cr to Zirakpur’s realtor’
According to findings of the bureau accessed by Hindustan Times, the VB probe has established Navjot Kaur paid ₹1 crore to a Zirakpur-based realtor Gagandeep Singh alias Prince. Two payments were made to Prince by her through two SBI cheques for ₹50 lakh each on March 12, 2019, one cheque in Gagandeep’s name and another in his company’s, found the VB probe.
“Prince has told the VB that Navjot Kaur wanted to buy a house and payments were made in advance. However, no such written document about the purchase or any booking was found during the probe. It appears that the sum was collected to float a company,” a top VB functionary said.
“Gagandeep, in connivance with Vasudeva and Rajiv Kumar (a clerk in health department who is an associate of Navjot Kaur since her tenure as parliamentary secretary), got approved the site plan without depositing the required fee and plan,” the probe found.
The probe found that they got G-8 receipts through Zirakpur executive officer Manbir Singh Gill by submitting cheques, which were never sent to the bank for collection and the site plan was approved. The VB probe in this case found that ₹4 crore was pending against Gagandeep’s firm, still he was given all clearances.
“Gagandeep in his statement to VB has said that he used to pay Rajiv Kumar ₹25,000 for approval to each residential plan and ₹50,000 for each commercial plan. Kumar collected ₹3,42,500 from Gagandeep,” the probe found.
The VB officials claim when Sidhu was the minister, Navjot Kaur had visited Gagandeep’s office in Zirakpur where the latter had also called senior officials to show his proximity to her.
The VB has also done analysis of call details and found 100 calls made by Rajiv Kumar to various Zirakpur MC officials, Gagandeep, Bunny and Vasudeva and Navjot Kaur during the period when these files were approved.
‘Bunny managed mega projects as OSD to Sidhu’
The VB probe claims that Bunny Sandhu allegedly was instrumental in getting CLU files cleared after striking deals with the contractors and builders.
“In one such case, Punjab and Haryana High Court had passed an order that the areas of the Nada and Karoran villages be included in the MC limit of Nayagaon. The Nayagaon MC challenged the decision in the Supreme Court and the high court decision was stayed. Bunny influenced then Nayagaon MC executive officer to get a resolution passed in the House to withdraw the petition from the Supreme Court,” claims the VB.
The agency claims Bunny was active on behalf of the minister in connivance with WWICS director Davinder Singh Sandhu for developing a big chunk of land in Nadda and Karoran villages. Since the VB hasn’t registered any FIR even after claiming such gross irregularities, the conduct of the agency is under cloud.
Navjot Sidhu, his wife and Bunny couldn’t be contacted for a comment despite repeated attempts. Navjot Kaur did not reply to text messages either.
After reports about the probe, Sidhu tagged chief minister a tweet, saying: ‘Most Welcome…Please do your best @Captain_Amarinder’.
“If Sidhus have done wrong why state government waited for two years. I am amazed to see that the vigilance has not carried a single probe into sand, transport and other deals done during Badals’ rule but is so quick on Sidhus,” said Jalandhar Cantt Congress MLA Pargat Singh.