This follows the conviction of two ministers — Bibi Jagir Kaur for abetment to suicide, abduction and forcible abortion of her daughter, and Tota Singh for misuse of his official car during his stint in an earlier tenure (1997-2002) of the Parkash Singh Badal government.
Gulzar Singh, like Badal, takes his surname from his village — Ranike, 5 km from the Pakistan border. The fourth of eight siblings, he went on to represent the reserved Attari in Amritsar four times in a row after his brother Dalbir Singh, then Attari MLA, was gunned down by militants in 1991.
Made a minister of state in 1999 by Badal, he was elevated to the cabinet in 2007, when the alliance returned to power, as minister for animal husbandry, dairy development and welfare of SC and BC. He continued to hold these departments in the present government despite hints that his personal staff had been receiving cheques pertaining to development and welfare grants for villages.
The first layer of the scam was unravelled in May 2011, when a case of embezzlement of funds issued to Ranike’s Attari constituency by the Centre under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) — Rs 40 lakh in 2008-09 and Rs 18.5 lakh in 2011-12 — was registered in May 2011. No one was, however, named as accused.
Evidence linking the minister emerged in June this year when another FIR was registered for siphoning of funds from rural grants issued from the minister’s own discretionary funds. This came a year after the Amritsar district administration had written to the rural development and planning departments for a detailed probe in May 2011.
The June FIR named Ranike’s personal assistant Sarabdyal Singh as the main accused and pegged the rip-off of rural grants at nearly Rs 2 crore. Three people were arrested in the two cases — Amit and Baljeet, aides of Ranike’s son Gurinderpal Singh, and a branch manager of Bank of Maharashtra, Om Prakash — while Ranike’s PA Sarabdyal is on the run. Their interrogation by Amritsar (rural) SSP Preetpal Singh Virk revealed the modus operandi — cheques recieved from block development and panchayat officers were deposited in fake accounts in the names of dummy village sarpanches and the money was later withdrawn with self-cheques.
An ongoing internal inquiry by the panchayat department and district administration found that rural grants issued to 13 villages under the minister’s discretionary funds in 2011-12, and BADP grants issued to seven villages in the minister’s constituency, Attari, never reached them. The list includes Ranike village, where the grant was siphoned off after opening a bank account in the name of former sarpanch Dulip Singh, now a porter on the border, who was clueless about the existence of such a bank account in his name in the posh Ranjit Avenue locality of Amritsar.
Amid the controversy emerged another scam, this time in Ranike’s own department of welfare of SC and BC that distributes Rs 15,000 as shagun to daughters of poor families on their marriage. Ranike’s home district of Amritsar had reported the largest number of marriages each year during Badal regime’s earlier tenure and bagged the largest chunk of shagun money. The interrogation of those arrested in the first two scams revealed that the same modus operandi was used to pocket shagun — this time by creating accounts of fake brides. The receipt books of the district welfare officer show cheques received lumpsum by Ranike’s official PA, Jeet Singh. Whether they reached the brides was never probed. SSP Virk, when contacted, agreed he had information on fake shagun being collected but said the police cannot investigate as there was no complaint.
But the CPI in Amritsar was quick to demand Ranike’s head for robbing poor girls of their shagun, citing the instance of Guruwali village with 49 fake cheques. Welfare of SC and BC director H S Nanda ordered a probe last week into bank accounts opened by “villagers” in posh Amritsar localities such as Ranjit Avenue and Lawrence Road.
The release from the chief minister’s office after the minister put in his papers “appreciated the moral courage shown by Ranike in tendering resignation voluntarily on moral grounds”. It ended reiterating “the vigilance inquiry was in line with his government’s policy to ensure transparent and corruption-free governance.”
Ranike, in his resignation letter, claimed his family had always stood for high moral values and mentioned the sacrifice of his brother Dalbir Singh.
Most of the politicians have no moral values because they give more importance to money laundering.For these people "Honesty is the best policy" has become the policy of the past time. A man with out PRINCIPLE is useless person. No CM nor PM takes the responsibility of his ministers because they all sailing in the same boat of corruption.Only awareness of people can save the country if they start thinking above the party level.