Editor-in-Chief of Punjabi Newspaper Summoned by Vigilance Bureau in Relation to Jang-E-Azadi Project

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The Editor-in-Chief of the renowned Punjabi newspaper Ajit, Dr. Barjinder Singh Hamdard, has been summoned by the Vigilance Bureau (VB) in connection with the Jang-E-Azadi project at Kartarpur, Jalandhar. The project, which cost over Rs. 300 crore, was established in late 2016 and has recently come under scrutiny.

Dr. Hamdard, known for his vocal criticism of the Punjab government, had lodged complaints with Punjab Governor Banwari Lal Purohit and even met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 4. Earlier, he had resigned from his positions as the Member Secretary of the Jang-e-Azadi Memorial Foundation and Chairperson of its Executive Committee. In his resignation letter, he accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, led by Bhagwant Mann, of damaging the memorial’s reputation by frequently sending police and vigilance teams there.

The Vigilance Bureau had previously questioned Lakhwinder Singh Johal, the Secretary involved in the Jang-E-Azadi project, as part of their inquiry into alleged fund misuse. In March, a surprise inspection was conducted at the Jang-E-Azadi memorial, during which the team collected construction materials, examined furniture, and inspected various installations, including air conditioners.

Now, the VB has summoned a Ludhiana-based contractor responsible for the project’s construction. Additionally, senior officials associated with the project have also been called in for questioning, although further details remain unclear.

Relations between Ajit and the AAP have been strained, with Dr. Hamdard previously expressing concerns about confrontations with the government and alleged threats from police officials. Ajit’s reporters and photographers were reportedly barred from entering the Punjab Vidhan Sabha during the recent budget session.

Dr. Hamdard’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi garnered attention, with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) spokesperson, Daljit Singh Cheema, tweeting a photo of their interaction. Ajit, known for its influence in rural areas across Punjab, had maintained cordial relations with the SAD party while providing extensive coverage of the AAP during the 2022 Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections.

As the investigation into the Jang-E-Azadi project unfolds, the summoning of Dr. Hamdard and other officials raises questions about alleged fund misuse and could potentially impact the political landscape in Punjab.

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