Graft case: Vigilance sleuths probe political links of HP’s director health services
Four days after Himachal Pradesh’s director of health services Dr Ajay Gupta was arrested in ₹5 lakh graft case, the Anti-Corruption and Vigilance Bureau is now investigating his political links, officials said on Saturday.
His arrest on Wednesday night came following the surfacing of an audio in which he was purportedly heard seeking a bribe of ₹5 lakh. Searches were conducted in the office and residence of Ajay Gupta under the supervision of SP SIU Shalini Agnihotri and certain documents were seized pertaining to various purchases made by the health department. He has been placed under suspension by the state government.
The vigilance sleuths on Friday identified the other person who was in conversation with Gupta in the audio clip. He is stated to be a supplier of medical products based in Chandigarh. The person hails from Renuka in the Sirmaur district and works as a frontman for medical equipment suppliers in Punjab.
According to the officials, he is said to have political links that are also being probed by the vigilance sleuths. Reportedly the middleman had been in constant touch with the health officials and is said to be close to high profile political leaders.
The person, according to the sleuths, has been identified as Prithi Singh who had made several calls to bureaucrats and the political leaders on the day vigilance sleuths arrested Gupta after his audio clip surfaced, said the officials.
Gupta who was to superannuate from his post had constantly been trying to seek an extension of the service period. It is reliably learned that Gupta had even approached many leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and also visited its office in Deep Kamal to meet the top rung leadership a few days before his arrest. Vigilance sleuths found that Gupta also made several calls to BJP leaders snd officials working in the secretariat.
The Vigilance Bureau also froze bank accounts of Gupta and his 19 relatives and seized several documents and ₹20,000 from his residence.
Former Himachal CM demands fair probe into health dept scam
Veteran BJP leader and former Union minister Shanta Kumar on Saturday sought a free and fair probe into the equipment purchase scam in the health department which surfaced recently, and a strict action against the culprits.
In a press statement issued here, the 85-year-old leader said that at a time when the state was reeling under the Covid-19 crisis, a government officer indulged in corrupt practices to make quick bucks.
“This is not only a crime but an enormous sin,” he said adding that such incidents make us hang our heads in shame.
The two-term former chief minister said while a MNREGA labourer like Vidya Devi from Palampur donated her ₹5,000 savings for the fight against Covid-19, an officer stole the same money.
“This is terrible and unforgivable,” said Shanta urging chief minister Jai Ram Thakur to constitute a joint probe panel of senior officers to investigate the matter and ensure strict punishment to the accused.
He also urged the opposition not to politicise the matter stating that he firmly believed that the CM would ensure an action in this matter.
The state vigilance and anti-corruption bureau has arrested former health department director Dr AK Gupta for graft and investigation in the case is underway.