Chandigarh: In a major breakthrough in the multi-crore Punjab border area rural development scam, the absconding personal assistant of former state minister Gulzar Singh Ranike was on Saturday arrested from Nainital in Uttarakhand by Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

Sarbdyal Singh was wanted in the embezzlement of funds pertaining to Border Area Development Programme (BADP) grants and other grants relating to discretionary quota of state ministers.

"Sarbdyal was arrested with another accused and his brother-in-law, Harjit Singh," said Suresh Arora, Chief Director-cum-DGP of the Bureau.

Arora said the Vigilance Bureau had conducted raids at various places in Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand to nab Sarbdyal, the main accused in the case.

"Accordingly, a vigilance team under the supervision of SSP Vigilance Amritsar Range Opinderjit Singh Ghuman and headed by Manjit Singh, DSP Vigilance Tarntaran raided different locations in these two states from where accused Harjit Singh, brother-in-law of Sarbdyal, was arrested on the night of October 19 from Bilaspur area of Ramgarh district of Uttar Pradesh," the police officer said.

Subsequently main accused Sarbdyal Singh was also arrested this morning from Nainital, he said.

He said both the accused would be brought to Amritsar to be produced before a designated court on Sunday.

Two criminal cases were registered against Sarbdyal, who allegedly embezzled funds pertaining to BADP and different grants relating to discretionary quota of state ministers in alleged connivance with certain bank employees and local sarpanches/panches by opening fake bank accounts in different banks in Amritsar district.

Arora said that during the investigation of both the cases, 23 accused have been arrested by the Vigilance Bureau Range Amritsar whereas main accused Sarbdyal Singh and his brother in law Harjit Singh were absconding and evading arrest.

Ranike, state's Animal Husbandry minister, had stepped down on moral grounds over a month ago.

Ranike had said he resigned to uphold the highest moral ethics in politics as well to maintain the dignity of the office so as to enable the ongoing enquiry by the Vigilance Bureau to proceed in a transparent and impartial manner.


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