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Over 400 government employees in Vigilance net

Pankaj Dhiman | Chandigarh |

As many as 456 government employees of Punjab, including 56 senior gazetted officers, have been caught red-handed indulging in corrupt practices, on different occasions in nearly three years. While nabbing these ‘corrupt’ public servants, vigilance sleuths also seized the currency notes worth over Rs.1 Crore from the spot to establish the charges.

Sources said that in past 10 years, during the regime of previous Prakash Singh led government, nearly 800 government employees were caught red-handed while accepting the bribe ranging from Rs.800 to Rs.20 lakh.

According to information received from the state Vigilance Bureau (VB), apart from 456 cases, 242 Vigilance Enquiries (VEs) have been recommended against government officials who were held since January 2015 till date. In 2015, five senior gazetted officers came under VB's net, subsequently the number risen to ten such officers in 2016. This includes the recent arrest of former IAS officer Mandeep Singh in a case of alleged amassing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. Singh had allegedly amassed more than half-a-dozen properties during his service. He had two residential properties in Chandigarh. Besides, his family owned a reputed hotel in Zirakpur next to Chandigarh.

Also, they had around 200 acres of land in Chamkaur Sahib. All these properties are in the name of Singh’s wife and son. He himself does not own any property. This list also includes the names of Amarjit Singh Dhaliwal, then Superintendent, posted in the office of Commissioner, Central Excise and Service Tax, Ludhiana, was nabbed in a case involving bribe Rs.20 lakh cash on October 20, 2014. "We have been closely studying the cases registered against corrupt officers. Actions against them have been recommended under various acts. In the past three months, three senior gazetted officers were caught red-handed including over 50 FIRs registered against others," Assistant Inspector General (AIG), VB, Punjab, Surjeet Singh, told The Statesman.

Since January, three officers have been caught red-handed. The FIRs have also been registered against the individuals from private sectors. Also, 108 VEs have been recommended against individuals involved in other malfunctioning.

Nearly 70 persons, including around 60 candidates and some conduits from Bihar, Haryana and UP have been arrested in other similar recruitment scams by VB. Two local-level politicians of Punjab are also in the net for collusion involving leakage of test papers and organising special classes for the beneficiary candidates.