Chandigarh: The enforcement directorate teams on Thursday raided more than a dozen properties of two former Punjab ministers Sadhu Singh Dharamsot and Sangat Singh Gilzian and several contractors in connection with the forest scam-linked money laundering case.
Besides Dharamsot, 63, who was forest minister in the previous Congress government, the premises of a forest contractor and a press reporter, through whom Dharamsot allegedly collected the bribes were searched under various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED teams searched the premises of Dharamsot in Amloh, Khanna (district Fatehgarh Sahib) and Mohali.
Former Minister Dharamsot Arrested Earlier in Disproportionate Assets Case
It may be recalled that Dharamsot, a five-time MLA was arrested along with two Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers earlier this year by the state vigilance bureau (VB) in a case linked to alleged cases of disproportionate assets. He was the first former minister who was put behind bars by the chief minister Bhagwant Mann-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government. The ED had taken documents from the VB and also registered two cases against him and some officials.
According to information, the ED teams also raided the premises of Gilzian in Hoshiarpur district. He was also forest minister in the previous Congress government and who had succeeded Dharamsot.
Allegations Against Dharamsot Include Payments For Tree Cutting Permits
According to information, the case pertained to huge bribes given to political leaders or their frontmen and senior officials of the state forest around 2017 by private contractors in lieu of cutting hundreds of khair trees.
According to media reports, a contractor had also allegedly given Rs 500 a tree to Dharamsot to cut khair trees and had got a permit for cutting about 7,000 trees. He gave another Rs 500 to senior officials of the forest department. The former minister also allegedly got huge bribes from the forest officers in lieu of transferring them to "lucrative"’ postings during his tenure as forest minister for about three years in the previous Congress government.