M A I N   N E W S

Despite stay orders, land sold after fudging records
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
The corruption case registered by the CBI against Raj Khurana, Punjab ’s Chief Parliamentary Secretary (Finance) and BJP MLA from Rajpura today became murkier with the Punjab Automobile Mechanics Association alleging that both co-accused Devinder and CBI complainant Manpreet were partners in many cases of land grabbing and illegal land sales.

Land sold illegally

Motor mechanics association land sold illegally
Co-accused and CBI complainant were partners in crime
Bribe was protection money
Difference over sharing of spoils
Complainant was arrested by Chandigarh police in 2008
Land sold despite stay from court

Nirmal Singh, president of Punjab Automobile Mechanics Association (PAMA), has claimed that 147 members of the association, mostly mechanics, had purchased 14 acres of land in Zirakpur in 1981 with a view to bring up a motor market there. This was done after the UT Administration threatened to shut the local motor marker and remove mechanics that were encroaching government land. But when the government removed encroachment, it allotted booths to mechanics in Manimajra (Chandigarh). So, the land remained unoccupied.

He claimed that in 2005, when land prices sky rocketed in Zirakpur, Devinder, an employee in the office of the Registrar Firms and Societies, Punjab, connived with Manpreet and one Satpal Singh Sodhi to split the association and inducted Manpreet as its general secretary. The split in the association resulted in several court cases and police complaints. Even though there was a stay on the sale of this land since 29-11-2009, the new office bearers, without the knowledge of the members of the association, sold the land.

The association claims that these two had, in effect, enacted a drama to extract money from a third accomplice - Satpal, as he had pocketed a major share of the money received after the sale of the land belonging to the association. Though, the association said that they were not aware of what transpired between Khurana, Devinder and Manpreet, they claimed that they were aware of Devinder’s political connection that prevented any action against him for selling their land illegally.

It was alleged that part of the money to be recovered from Satpal could have been the protection money. This was to be paid to Khurana to get the three out of the mess and provide them protection from the police and adverse action from the government, for fudging association records to effect the sale.

Manpreet, who was not even a member of the association, was made PAMA general secretary. Several names were changed in the membership register of the association. Following a complaint by Manmohan Singh, the earlier general secretary of the association, the Chandigarh Police registered an FIR and arrested five persons, including Satpal Sodhi and Manpreet.

The association members also said that they had complained to the Secretary Industries, as the Registrar, Firms and Societies is under the Industries Department, headed by Manoranjan Kalia. But he did not take any action saying the matter was sub-judice.

After Manpreet, Devinder and Satpal sold the land, there were differences between the three of sharing of spoils. In the meantime, according to Nirmal Singh, complaint from the association put pressure on these people and they put pressure on Satpal and even threatened him that he would be one who would be arrested if the sale deal turned sour.

Though, the association denies any knowledge about the role of Khurana or any Punjab politician in the CBI raid, they claim that since there were several cases and complaints of the association pending before various authorities, the CBI could be trailing Devinder and others.

On May 4, Devinder had come to the residence of Raj Khurana in Porsche (valued at around Rs 1 crore). The CBI team that was on his trail raided Khurana’s house and recovered cash and cheques amounting to Rs 1.5 crore and arrested Devinder and Khurana.

About 20 families of members of the association today met mediapersons and presented their view point. They demanded that the land (located opposite the Mall adjoining the Zirakpur flyover), which they claimed was worth Rs 200 crore, be handed over to the association.





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