Former Punjab minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau on Tuesday morning in an alleged corruption case, PTI reported citing officials.
The Congress leader, who was the social welfare and forest minister in the Amarinder Singh government, was arrested from Amloh city of Fatehpur Sahib district. A local journalist Kamaljit Singh, who was allegedly an aide of Dharamsot, was also arrested, reported PTI.
The development came a week after the Vigilance Bureau arrested Gurnampreet Singh, a divisional forest officer, and contractor Harminder Singh Hummi, who provided details of the alleged wrongdoings during Dharamsot’s tenure as a minister.
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau’s Chief Director Varinder Kumar alleged that Dharamsot accepted a bribe of Rs 500 for felling each tree, reported PTI.
“Over time, around Rs 1.25 crore was given to the minister as commission,” Kumar said.
Dharamsot also used to take bribes for giving no-objection certificates for the transfer of forest department officials, Kumar alleged.
A case has been registered against Dharamsot under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
“Dharamsot will be presented before a court and police remand will be sought to further probe the scam,” Kumar said.
On Tuesday, a search operation was carried out at Dharamsot’s house in Amloh.
His arrest came hours ahead of Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Punjab, PTI reported. Gandhi will be meeting the family of singer Sidhu Moose Wala, who was killed in Mansa on May 29.
The Congress has described Dharamsot’s arrest as vendetta.
“[Chief Minister Bhagwant] Mann sahib, as expected, you want to deflect main issues of lawlessness, unemployment and interference of Kejriwal and others in Punjab by arresting Sadhu Dharamsot,” Punjab Congress Chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring wrote on Twitter. “Let law take its own course. Please do not make it Kangaroo Court justice. Political vendetta shall boomerang.”
In April, Punjab Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Bhagwant Mann had warned Dharamsot of action in the corruption case, reported PTI.