Hooda's ministers not new to crime controversies

Jaideep Sarin

Chandigarh, Aug 6 (IANS) Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda would like people to believe that the law and order situation in his state is good but the activities of his own cabinet and political colleagues seem to belie his claims.

The Hooda government Monday found itself in another controversy Monday, a day after minister of state for home Gopal Kanda was forced to submit his resignation Sunday evening with Delhi Police booking him in a case of abetting the suicide of former flight attendant Geetika Sharma.

Fiza Mohammed, aka Anuradha Bali, who had married and was later divorced by former Haryana deputy chief minister Chander Mohan, was found dead under mysterious circumstances at her home in Mohali adjoining Chandigarh.

It was a scandal that made national headlines. Anuradha and Chander Mohan, who was then deputy chief minister, went missing in November 2008. They reappeared early December 2008 as a married couple after embracing Islam, changing their names to Chand Mohammed and Fiza.

Following the controversy over his affair and second marriage, Chander Mohan, elder son of three-time Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal, lost his job as Hooda's second-in-command. But the marriage lasted barely 40 days.

If Chander Mohan was back in the limelight with Fiza's tragic death, Gopal Kanda is not new to controversy either. Having started his career as a petty shopkeeper selling slippers and shoes, he is now one of the richest politicians in the state within a span of just over 15 years. He floated the now-defunct MDLR airline in 2007.

His security and staff have too been involved in beating up former cricketer Atul Wassan near Gurgaon and assaulting shopkeepers observing a strike in Sirsa.

Now, Kanda has been booked by police after New Delhi-based Geetika left a suicide note, blaming Kanda for her death.

In June last year, Hooda's cabinet colleague Om Prakash Jain, who was transport and tourism minister, and chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Zile Ram Sharma were forced to quit after their names were linked to the alleged murder of a village headman in Karnal. Both were booked in this case.

Just a day before his murder, the village headman, Karam Singh, who was in his 50s, submitted a written complaint to Hooda and police against Sharma and Jain. He accused them of duping him of nearly Rs.13 lakh on the pretext of providing government jobs to his son and two nephews. But they neither provided the jobs nor returned the money, his complaint said.

Days later, Chamail Singh, who was made witness in the Karam Singh murder, was also found murdered.

In April this year, another CPS, Ram Kishan Fauji, was admitted to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here in a critical condition after he consumed some poison under mysterious circumstances. Though he recovered after two months, the mystery over the episode remains.

Hooda also faced embarrassment over the Apna Ghar shelter home in his hometown Rohtak. Jaswanti Devi, who was in-charge of the home, was arrested for assaulting women and girls and forcing them into immoral activities. She was also accused of torturing children in the home.

That she had been the state government's Indira Nari Shakti awardee was a further taint on his government.

--Indo-Asian News Service