Sunday, June 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

CM justifies Saini, Bhatnagar transfers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
Transfers of top brass of the Intelligence Wing of the Punjab police and selective arrests by the Vigilance Bureau figured prominently at the press conference addressed by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, here today.

Though he made every effort to justify the transfers of Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, Mr Sumedh Saini and others but he was unable to justify what made him take a one-sided action. He admitted that it was a clash of personalities on both sides. But why did he act against only the officers of the Intelligence Wing and not the Vigilance Bureau? There was no straight answer.

Replying to a volley of questions on the issue, Capt Amarinder Singh said that Intelligence Wing officers were interfering in the investigations of the Vigilance Bureau. It was not a job of the Intelligence Wing to investigate cases. It was a faceless department of the government. Its job was only to see and report to the government.

“Mr Sumedh Saini is my friend. Mr Bhatnagar is an outstanding officer. But they were stepping on to the toes of their colleagues in the Vigilance Bureau”, said Capt Amarinder Singh. “ I had to take action as things started going out of hand because of the clash of egos between the top ranks of the Intelligence Wing and the Vigilance Bureau”, he added.

Efforts were made to sort out the differences between the officers of the bureau and the Intelligence Wing. For some days there was calm on this front. But all of a sudden last week, things again started boiling up. It created a lot of confusion about the ongoing investigations regarding the recruitment scam which hampered the government’s campaign against corruption. “ I cannot allow this, hence the action to transfer officers of the Intelligence Wing”, he added.

In fact, Capt Amarinder Singh went a step ahead. He said that he was happy the way bureau officers were handling inquiries and cases.

However, he was unable to tell why was the bureau only after some select publicmen belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal? Why has it not arrested those who gave money in lakhs to buy elite jobs. Why it did not arrest an IAS officer in another recruitment scam? Why it has only acted against a former minister, and have not touched officers involved in paper and recruitment scandal ?

Why has the bureau not arrested several senior engineers, who used to buy plum postings and even promotions by paying money to the touts of Mr Sucha Singh Langah as has come to the notice during the course of investigation ? Why those who had got promoted to the PCS from the ranks of ETOs and Tehsildars with the power of money had not been arrested yet and had been allowed to work on their previous jobs by issuing a reversion order ?

There were many more such questions. Capt Amarinder Singh said that there was a shortage of manpower with the Vigilance Bureau and it was not possible to arrest all in one go. Interestingly, the bureau has enough staff to arrest “a select few”, so it seems.

Capt Amarinder Singh said he would not allow anyone to interfere in the investigations of the Vigilance Bureau. If anyone did, he would be dealt with strongly. When told that Intelligence Wing officers had the information that deliberately loose ends were being kept in the investigations of various scams by the bureau, Capt Amarinder Singh said that such matter was never brought to his notice by wing officers.

When questioned over the fact that he was not accessible to his officers and MLAs, he said that he never evaded officers and MLAs intentionally. He was unhappy over the Intelligence Wing’s official and unofficial interaction with mediapersons.

“I have brought equally good officers as replacement for Mr Bhatnagar, Mr Saini and others in the Intelligence Wing”, he asserted.


Intelligence never crossed limits: Bhatnagar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
K.S. Bedi of Punjab and Sind Bank, arrested last week in the recruitment scam, spilled the beans when he was summoned by the enquiry team set up at the instance of the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court to look into allegations of involvement of certain senior members of the judiciary in the scam.

Against the initial presumption of his limited or superficial links with the suspended PPSC chief Ravi Sidhu, it was revealed that Bedi was very close to Ravi Sidhu and had been in his contact for a very long time.

The Ropar police, too, had some information about him before he was arrested. Once the Intelligence wing was told to keep off the Bedi case, it left it at that.

Further, the Intelligence wing neither organised any press conference nor did it pass any information to any scribe throughout the investigation in the recruitment scam.

The information about Bedi was available in the case record from where his quizzing revealed his deeper involvement in the scam.

Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, Additional Director-General of Police (Security), said this at an informal chat with mediapersons at Ludhiana today.

Mr Bhatnagar reportedly remarked that he once appeared in “Aaj Tak” and that was the only time when he was approached by the electronic media.

“Otherwise, as and when any scribe approaches us with specific questions , we give him whatever information, which is otherwise openly available and which is neither confidential nor secret,” he said maintaining that there is no question of his or any of his officers intentionally releasing any information to any scribe.

“I always believe that a collective team effort always yields better results,” Mr Bhatnagar said maintaining that only his Inspector-General was called by the Director-General of Police in the Bedi case after the Vigilance Bureau had complained against him.

“Before we summoned him (Bedi) in the judges case, we also did not realise that he was very close to Ravi Sidhu and had known him for a very long time and had been acting as his main conduit for transmitting ill gotten money abroad,” revealed Mr Bhatnagar.

He refused to comment on the revamping of the Intelligence wing and maintained that it was the prerogative of the government to post any officer anywhere.

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