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Graft fetters on fourth Badal minister

Chandigarh, Oct. 19: Former Akali Dal minister Jagdish Singh Garcha was today arrested from Killa Raipur in Ludhiana on corruption charges. Garcha is the fourth Parkash Singh Badal loyalist to have been arrested during the last eight months since the Congress came to power in the state.

Punjab vigilance bureau officials said Garcha was held for “irregularities committed during his tenure as Punjab technical education minister”.

A senior bureau official said the department had registered an FIR against Garcha and three others yesterday. “His arrest followed raids conducted on premises owned by his family where some incriminating documents and Rs 3.5 lakh in cash were recovered,” the official added.

Garcha has been charged with embezzlement of funds of the Jalandhar-based Punjab Technical University.

The former Akali minister has been accused along with three others, including his son Parminder, of diverting funds meant for establishment of the university’s study centres across the state. While PTU director (distance education) Amarjit Singh Garewal, another accused in the case, was arrested in Jalandhar, former director Gurnam Singh and Parminder are still at large.

Garcha has been taken to Jalandhar, where he will be produced in court, the official said.

Garcha is the fourth Badal minister to have been arrested on graft charges. The other three include Tota Singh, Sewa Singh Sekhon and Sucha Singh Langah — all Badal loyalists.

Badal condemned “the continuing reign of repression and lawless vendetta” unleashed by the Amarinder Singh government on Akali workers and leaders while reacting to the detention of Garcha, who was “arrested from Ludhiana by the Jalandhar police”.

Badal alleged that Garcha’s whereabouts were being kept secret from his family and party.

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