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Graft cases filed against Virbhadra, wife
Published on 5 Aug. 2009 1:36 AM IST
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Police in Himachal Pradesh have filed corruption cases against Union Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh, officials said Tuesday. The complaint against Singh was misuse of official position and criminal misconduct when chief minister in 1989, a charge denied by him. "Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh were booked Monday night by the state vigilance and anti-corruption bureau under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. They were booked under sections related to misuse of official position and criminal misconduct," Inspector General of Police (Vigilance) S.R. Mardi told IANS. He said they were booked on the basis of an audio CD released by (Virbhadra Singh's political adversary) Vijai Singh Mankotia in 2007. In the CD, Virbhadra Singh was heard referring to some monetary transactions on phone with former IAS officer Mahinder Lal, who is now dead. The CD also contained recordings of his wife, a former MP from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. The police also sent the CD and their voice samples for analysis at the Chandigarh-based Central Forensic Science Laboratory. According to a statement released by the vigilance bureau, the couple has been booked on the complaint of former IAS officer S.M. Katwal on the basis of the CD released by Mankotia. However, Virbhadra Singh refuted the allegations against him and his wife. "It is just an attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state to harm me and the Congress party through false and baseless allegations. It is nothing more than political vendetta," he told IANS on phone from Delhi. Mankotia, who was suspended from the Congress for criticising state leaders and the party high command, had released the CD in May 2007. He had also released a list of corrupt state bureaucrats and politicians, especially those who were close to Virbhadra Singh. Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, asked by reporters about the registration of the case against Virbhadra Singh and his wife, said: "I have no information about the registration of the case." But he said as per the report of the CFSL, the voices of Virbhadra Singh and his wife matched with that of the CD. A five-time former chief minister, Virbhadra Singh belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Bushehr state. He is popularly known as "Raja Saab". During the parliamentary elections this year, Virbhadra Singh won the Mandi seat by a margin of 13,000 votes.

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