Friday, December 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Punjab ministers’ conduct being probed
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

Ahmedabad, December 19
The Gujarat police is inquiring into the veracity of reports about the alleged immoral conduct of some Punjab ministers during their stay here during the run-up to the Assembly elections.

The ministers, who stayed in a posh hotel, were here to canvass for the Congress candidates. The police is probing into the reports that appeared in a section of media in Punjab that the ministers had reportedly sought sexual favours from a woman after making some promises to her. Several top Punjab police and administrative officials have rung up their counterparts here, urging them to find out the truth.

While the hotel administration denied having knowledge of any such incident, senior police officials preferred to remain non-committal. However, they said no complaint had been lodged and they had only heard “rumours.”

Sources said discreet inquiries were being made as the issue had assumed political overtones. Certain SAD and BJP leaders in Punjab have apparently urged the BJP leadership here to get the issue probed.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had also visited the hotel. The hotel staff has been receiving phone calls from officials in Punjab.

Referring to reports that a woman manager was involved in the incident and had later gone to Punjab, the sources said it was baseless and false. They said the hotel did not have a woman manager on its rolls and none of its woman employees had gone on leave in the past few days.

“None of the women employees has gone on leave in the recent past,” said Mr Umed Singh Champawat, chairman of the group owning the hotel.

Even as the controversy involving the ministers has not died down, the police here is preparing a report into the alleged sexual escapade of a Punjab police commandant which led to the disappearance of an AK-47 rifle of a member of his staff.

Police sources in Gandhinagar said Mr Khushwant Pal Singh of Second Commando Battalion, Bahadurgarh, Patiala, had lodged a complaint with the Gandhinagar police about the loss of a AK-47 rifle on December 13.

The rifle, police officials said, was lost on December 9 and subsequently recovered from Surat.

The sources said the rifle, belonging to a guard of Mr Khushwant Pal Singh, was left in his vehicle while he reportedly accompanied a woman to a hotel on December 9. They said two local acquaintances of the officer, who were in the vehicle, had gone on a long drive. They also slept in the vehicle for the night, not realising that it had a weapon.

Police officials said on discovering the rifle in the morning, the two took the vehicle towards Surat, apparently with the idea of leaving it at a safe place. Having waited for three days for their return, the officer finally lodged a complaint on December 19.

The vehicle and the weapon were traced by the police in Surat and the two occupants of the vehicle are now under remand at Gandhinagar. The Gandhinagar police will submit a report to the Punjab police after completing its investigations, the sources said.


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