Vigilance to wait for HP govt’s nod to probe minister’s land deals, oppn mounts pressure

The state anti-corruption and vigilance bureau ( SACVB) has sought permission from the Himachal government to investigate land deals pertaining to minister for social justice and empowerment Sarveen Chaudhary and herrelatives .

The controversy deepened after former tourism minister and senior Congress leader Vijay Singh Mankotia accused Chaudhary of striking dubious deals during her tenure as urban development minister.

The vigilance bureau has reportedly sought permission to initiate preliminary enquiry. In case permission is granted, a case will be registered against the social justice minister.

Mankoltia had alleged that the family and relatives of a minister had bought 1,100-kanal land in Mohal Patti, Fatehpur tehsil, Kangra, which was part of the 4,000 kanals sold in the area. He alleged that land had been bought in bulk to make money.

Refusing to name the minister in question, Mankotia had asked CM Jai Ram Thakur whether he knew of his minister’s involvement. Mankotia said that it appeared that a land mafia, allegedly linked to a cabinet minister, was operating in the region.

He had asked the BJP’s vanguard, including national president Jagat Parkash Nadda, former chief minister Shanta Kumar and chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, to come clear on the deals otherwise it would give an impression that the minister was being shielded by the government .

Sarveen Chaudhary has repeatedly defended the deals, saying there was nothing wrong in them. She said the land was purchased by her family in accordance with norms and the holding limit set by the government.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) too has sought Chaudhary’s resignation. CPI (M) leader Sanjay Chauhan said there are many such cases where influential people with political reach have been accused of violating the laws to purchase land.

Meanwhile, urban development minister Sarveen Chaudhary is in New Delhi to explain herself to the Central leaders.Mahender Singh Thakur, who also holds the revenue portfolio, also left for Delhi. The CM on Friday had called on governor Bandaru Dattatreya and reportedly hinted that a minister accused of striking dubious land deals may be dropped from the cabinet.

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