Chandigarh: The Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s war against corruption has met with unprecedented success in only five months since the Aam Admi Party (AAP) government came to power in Punjab.

The Vigilance Bureau has arrested as many as 135 government officials including 25 gazetted officers for accepting illegal gratification, said an official spokesperson.

Some of those who are arrested include top ministers of the AAP and the previous Congress government. A top IAS officer, a IFS officer and over 50 police officials.

From sacking and subsequent arrest of AAP’s health minister Vijay Singla on charges of corruption, the Mann government has also cracked the whip on big sharks including arresting former Congress minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot in a corruption case, 2008-batch IAS officer Sanjay Popli, who was posted as director pensions and Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Vishal Chauhan and many others. In addition, services of two government officials were terminated by their administrative departments.

As the pace of work in the Anti-Corruption campaign picked up, in the month of July alone, eight government employees were arrested for accepting bribes in five different cases. The accused included two employees of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and three employees of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust. The Bureau had registered 14 criminal cases in which 20 accused were involved in corruption. In these criminal cases, among others four police personnel, two revenue officials and six employees of Improvement Trust Ludhiana including its former chairman Raman Bala Subramanyam was booked by the VB for further investigations. Subramanyam has been identified as a powerful official under whose supervision the scam took place.

The Vigilance bureau has also nabbed around 80 private individuals. Data revealed that in seven cases, convictions were handed down by various courts in which eight government officials and a private person were involved.

A fresh case has been registered against former Minister of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Bharat Bhushan Ashu on Friday in the scam of allotting transportation tenders on fake registration numbers of vehicles. An enquiry is underway and more officials of the Food and Supplies department are under the scanner.

The chief minister’s anti-graft helpline is leading the way in exposing corruption and corrupt officials as people are coming forward to use this tool effectively to expose those who are blocking good clean governance in the state. Complaints in the helpline alone led to the arrest of 61 persons and registration of 40 FIRs, since its inception on March 23 this year. The government received 4135 complaints with audio / video recordings on the given number and after verifying genuine complaints.

Reiterating the AAP government’s avowed policy of “zero tolerance for corruption” CM Bhagwant Mann said that after assuming charge of his office, he had promised to deliver a corruption-free, transparent and clean administration to the people for which a number of initiatives have already been taken, including launching an anti-corruption helpline number in bid to annihilate corruption from Punjab.

CM said that departmental inquiries are going on and many more scams would be unearthed soon without any bias. All perpetrators who have looted the public money whether they are senior officers or politicians will be taken to task.

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