Days after the arrest of Congress' three-time legislator from Bholath and chairman All India Kisan Congress, Sukhpal Khaira in connection with a 2015 drugs case
Punjab Governor Banwari Lal Purohit on Thursday said Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann should remove Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Lal Chand Kataruchak from the Cabinet over alleged “sexual misconduct”.
When asked about the action being taken against Kataruchak, the Governor said the minister has committed a heinous crime and he has no right to continue in the Cabinet.
“I want to bring it to the attention of the CM that he should immediately take action against the minister. You should not forget it’s a heinous crime that he has done. He has no right to stay (in the Cabinet).. he should be eased out,” Purohit told reporters at a press conference.
Opposition Congress had accused a minister in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of “sexual misconduct” on the basis of “video clips” and demanded his ouster even as the Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had termed the allegation as ‘baseless’.
The Punjab government has constituted a three-member special investigation team (SIT) to probe into the allegations of sexual misconduct against the minister.
The controversy started after without naming anyone, Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira, had submitted “highly objectionable video clips of gross misconduct by an AAP minister” to Punjab Governor.
Khaira claimed the Governor had forwarded the “sleazy video” of AAP minister to Chandigarh Police to verify its authenticity and sought its forensic report.
The alleged victim had later come on camera and alleged he has been subjected to sexual misconduct from 2013 when he was very young, and it continued till 2021.
In the video, he alleged that Kataruchak had approached him by sending a friend request on Facebook in 2013-14. When he accepted it, Kataruchak allegedly started making advances towards him. The alleged victim said he belongs to Pathankot.
The person in the video said that Kataruchak had asked him to have a relationship with him. But he was too young at that time to understand anything. He said that Kataruchak later called him to Gurdaspur and took him to his office for his “sexual excesses.”
Also, he said that the last time he met Kataruchak was on Diwali in 2021. “He (Kataruchak) then promised me a government job stating that he would become an MLA soon. After that he did not meet me and asked me not to approach him,” the victims said.
The alleged victim said that he was on the run now fearing the minister would harm him or his family.