Ropar/ Chandigarh, Dec. 1: Three-time Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir, a former Union minister, were sent to jail today on corruption charges.
Ropar special court judge S.K. Goyal sent the president of the Shiromani Akali Dal and his son, a Rajya Sabha MP, to judicial custody till December 13 in a Rs 78-crore disproportionate assets case. The case was filed by the Punjab vigilance bureau on November 22. The chargesheet has put the total worth of the family at Rs 4,326 crore.
Badal’s wife Surinder Kaur, who also figures in the chargesheet, failed to appear in court saying she was ill. Fresh summons have been issued, asking her to appear on December 13.
Chief minister Amarinder Singh, who said the Congress had fulfilled its promise of netting the biggest fish in the crusade against corruption, has asked the vigilance bureau not to oppose Surinder’s bail plea.
“I have asked them not to oppose her bail or harass her. I have also asked the jail authorities to treat Badal and Sukhbir with respect and provide them with whatever they desire,” he said.
As 24 people were injured, one of them seriously, during protests by Akali Dal workers, the chief minister said: “I will not tolerate any agitation against the arrest of the two.”
Badal and Sukhbir had earlier today moved an application seeking regular bail, which was opposed by the vigilance bureau. The plea will be heard on Wednesday.
High drama was witnessed on the route from Badal’s official residence in Chandigarh to the Ropar court with dozens of barricades along the way. Buses were stopped and cars searched by armed policemen, inconveniencing people.
Badal’s motorcade of 80 vehicles was stopped before it could enter Ropar. Only he, Sukhbir and some senior Akali leaders were allowed to proceed to the court.
Among those who accompanied Badal were Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) president G.S. Tohra, former finance minister Kanwaljit Singh, former advocate-general H.S. Mattewal and a battery of lawyers.
The police lathicharged to disperse Akali Dal workers outside the special court, which was turned into a fortress. As many as 1,700 Akali workers were arrested, among them former SGPC president Jagir Kaur.
A beaming Amarinder said: “My job has ended. It was a promise the Congress party made to the people of the state and we have kept it. We had begun a crusade against corruption and had said during the run-up to the Assembly polls that we would catch the biggest fish and we have done it. The Badals have looted the state. Now it is up to the court to decide. But we will oppose any move for bail of the Badals.”
Cash-starved Punjab has already released Rs 25 lakh to institute fast-track courts to try corruption cases. The courts will be set up in Jalandhar and Patiala. The Badals have been sent to Patiala jail.
Badal said he would abide by the court verdict. “I have nothing against the judiciary. The truth will prevail,” he said before being led away.
The Rs 78-crore chargesheet is the first against the Badal family. Vigilance bureau chief A.P. Pandey had earlier said supplementary chargesheets would be filed “whenever we are able to gather evidence”.
The Akali Dal is meeting tomorrow. Sources said the party would keep a low profile till the Badals get bail.
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