Badals’ blue-eyed ‘Pahalwan’ used to fund SAD activities in Bathinda, finds VB probe
It is already known in SAD circles how Pehalwan used to “call shots” at the sangat darshans of Badals in Bathinda and dictate terms to senior bureaucrats.punjab Updated: Jun 11, 2017 09:11 IST
The interrogation of Badals’ blue-eyed officer and Punjab Mandi Board superintending engineer (SE) Surinderpal Singh ‘Pehalwan’ by the vigilance bureau has revealed that he used to fund Shiromani Akali Dal’s political activities in Bathinda parliamentary constituency with his ill-gotten money.
Sources in the VB said it has come out in the investigation that Pehalwan, who was arrested on Friday in a graft case pertaining to his tenure as SE in Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA), enjoyed absolute clout during the SAD-BJP’s ten-year regime. He was not only given promotion from executive engineer (XEN) to SE illegally, but was given free hand “to earn money the way he wants and spend it when needed”.
It is already known in SAD circles how Pehalwan used to “call shots” at the sangat darshans of Badals in Bathinda and dictate terms to senior bureaucrats.
“He has admitted many things. Why he was given undue promotions and free hand is also a strong point in the case. He blatantly made money through corrupt means,” said a VB official linked with the probe.
In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, which SAD chief Sukhbir Badal’s wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal contested from Bathinda against Congress candidate Manpreet Badal, many complaints were filed before the election commission against Pehalwan.
These alleged that Pehalwan was bearing all expenses of the SAD candidate in the Talwandi Sabo assembly segment of Bathinda.
Pehalwan has been booked under Sections 420 (cheating), 506 (criminal intimidation), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 13 (1) (d) read with 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) at VB flying squad-1 police station, SAS Nagar. Three builders that were favoured by the officer have also been booked.
WIFE, MOTHER ALSO BOOKED
The VB has also booked Pehalwan’s mother Swaranjeet Kaur and wife Surinder Kaur in the case. Both were part of many companies indirectly floated by Pehalwan. One such company, Ackme Crushers and Builders Pvt Ltd, was incorporated in November 2016, in which Surinder Kaur has 90% shares and Swarnjeet Kaur 10%.
SANCTIONED INFLATED TENDERS TO MAKE MONEY
Making shell companies, non-trading firms used as a vehicle for various financial manoeuvres, was money-spinner idea of Pehalwan, it has emerged in the VB investigation.
He used to sanction inflated rates of tenders and earn more money by way of commission.
“Suppose a project was worth Rs 70 crore. As chief engineer, he would go for a tender of Rs 100 crore. He used to ask for 10-12% of the total project cost as bribe,” VB sources said, while adding that many contractors have told the bureau that they paid him money in lieu of getting projects.
The VB has already stated that Pehalwan has amassed huge wealth with ill-gotten money by illegally favouring some construction companies during his tenure at GMADA.
ROLE OF 2 IAS OFFICERS ALSO UNDER SCANNER
The vigilance probe against Pehalwan has also brought the role of two IAS officers under the scanner. These officers were at the helm of affairs in the previous SAD-BJP government and used to enjoy “extremely friendly” relationship with Pehalwan. Both have served on key postings in GMADA and PUDA.
The VB, the sources said, is also probing their role in providing Pehalwan free hand to indulge in his corrupt ways.
First Published: Jun 11, 2017 09:04 IST