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Sex case: NCSC seeks ATR on allegations against Punjab minister

Sex case: NCSC seeks ATR on allegations against Punjab minister

[File Photo]

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) on Tuesday issued a third notice to the Punjab government over allegations of sexual misconduct against Punjab Cabinet minister Lal Chand Kataruchak.

A NCSC official said the notice was issued on the orders of its Chairman Vijay Sampla after the state government failed to submit an action taken report (ATR) to the Commission despite the two prior notices.

In the third notice, the NCSC directed Punjab’s chief secretary, director general of police and DIG Border Range Amritsar to immediately record statements of the victim by video-conference or in person in Delhi, provide him security, and submit ATR by 12 June.

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Taking notice of the complaint by one Keshav Kumar, who had alleged sexual misconduct by Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Kataruchak, the Commission had on 5 May issued the first notice to the Punjab government seeking ATR in the case and providing security to the victim who, the NCSC said, was receiving threat calls from the minister.

Following the notice, the state government on 8 May constituted a three-member special investigation team (SIT) to probe the matter but no action taken report was submitted before the Commission, a NCSC official said.

The NCSC on 25 May issued the second notice in the case to the state government. Citing threats of life to the victim, the NCSC had asked the state government officials and police to record the statement of the victim by video-conference or in person in Delhi, provide him proper security and submit the report by 1 June.

“Despite repeated notices, no solid action has been taken by the state government. This shows the state government’s lackadaisical and reluctant approach towards proving justice to the scheduled caste residents of the state. The state government is directed to submit an action taken report by June 12. Also, the government is directed to immediately record statements of the victim by video-conference or in person in Delhi,” Sampla said.

In repeated complaints to NCSC, the victim Keshav Kumar demanded justice as well as security, citing threats.

Opposition parties accuse the minister in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government  of sexual misconduct on the basis of “video clips” and demand his ouster even as the Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had termed the allegation ‘baseless’.

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 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.

 

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