CBI arrests Punjab minister's aide in graft case

"We had called him (Bhag Singh) for questioning. His role in this case has come to our notice and he was arrested by the investigating team," CBI Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Mahesh Aggarwal told IANS here Tuesday.

The CBI Monday questioned the state's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers Manoranjan Kalia (industries and local bodies) and Swarna Ram (social welfare and justice) in connection with the case. Bhag Singh is Ram's personal secretary.

Ram was questioned for nearly two hours by the CBI officials for his role in the controversy over a land deal near Zirakpur, on the outskirts of Chandigarh, belonging to a mechanics association in Punjab.

Chief Parliamentary Secretary (CPS) and BJP legislator Raj Khurana, who submitted his resignation Sunday, was earlier arrested by the CBI along with an ex-government official Devinder Singh Bittu.

The CBI had raided Khurana's official residence in Sector 39 here Wednesday and recovered Rs.15 lakh in cash, cheques running into millions of rupees and an expensive Porsche car (valued at over Rs.1 crore) from there.

The CBI probe is related to the alleged bribe Khurana and Bittu sought over the land deal case. The money, they allegedly said, was meant for the two ministers.

Ram had written a note to Kalia April 7, 2011 to look into the land deal case, about which he was questioned by the CBI.

"My PS (personal secretary) Bhag Singh had told me to issue that note and I did the same, asking the concerned ministry to look into the matter. He also told me to write to the chief minister regarding the case. But I did not do so as I was not aware about it," Ram told reporters after the CBI questioning Monday.

Minister Kalia, who was also questioned for nearly one hour by the CBI Monday, said: "I want to make it clear that the CBI has not named me in the FIR (first information report) and they have only called me for simple questioning. Therefore, I see no reason to resign. I am innocent and have full belief that truth will come out in public."
Nearly 200 BJP supporters had gathered outside the CBI office here, shouting slogans, while the questioning was going on.

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