Over 100 AAP office bearers, including party MLAs and Punjab unit chief Bhagwant Mann, were today taken into preventive custody after they tried to violate prohibitory orders by taking out a protest here against alleged cases of corruption. They were let off after being detained for a couple of hours, police said. The AAP was demanding handing over investigations and trials of the alleged Amritsar Improvement Trust land scam and Ludhiana city centre scam to the CBI. The protesters tried to jump police barricades to get near the chief minister’s residence here for their demonstration and violated prohibitory orders imposed under section 144 in the area, the police said. The police also used water cannons to disperse them near the MLAs hostel gate here.
Over 100 protesters, including Mann, Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira and MLA of AAP’s ally Lok Insaaf Party Simmerjit Singh Bains, were then rounded off and taken to Sector 17 police station in police bus before being let off later, the police said. During the protest, Mann told reporters that alleged corruption cases should be handed over to the CBI for trial outside the state “as a free and fair trial is impossible here…everyone is being given a clean chit.” Khaira said, “We had recently asked Amarinder Singh to either quit as chief minister or unilaterally hand over investigations and trials of both corruption cases of Amritsar Improvement Trust and Ludhiana city centre to the CBI for trial outside Punjab. Neither has the CM resigned nor has he handed over the investigation to CBI, so the MLAs and office bearers of AAP were forced to hold a dharna today against him.”
The AAP leaders also raked up the alleged sand mining auction scam in the state. Notably, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau had filed a closure report in the alleged Rs 1,000 crore Ludhiana city centre scam in a court in Ludhiana last month. In another case, giving a clean chit to Punjab’s Cabinet minister Rana Gurjeet Singh, the Justice (retd) J S Narang Commission, probing allegations of irregularities in the sand mining auctions, had said there was no loss of revenue and the auction was carried out in a transparent manner through e- tendering process.
The chief minister had earlier ordered constitution of the one-man commission following allegations involving Rana Gurjeet in the sand mining auctions conducted by the Department of Mining in May. Meanwhile, to pressure the government to fulfill the promise of complete waiver of farmers’ debts, the AAP will lauch a state-wide campaign — ‘Vaada Khilaf-Pardafash’ (betrayal-expose) — in Punjab, Mann later said.