Punjab Experiences Rise in Online Payments for Corruption

A vigilance spokesperson said many such complaints have come in on the CM’s anti-corruption helpline and each case is being looked into one by one.

Punjab Experiences Rise in Online Payments for Corruption

As the world embraces digital payments, it appears that even corrupt individuals want to keep up with the times. The Punjab vigilance bureau has noticed a rising trend where government officials are now accepting bribes through digital payment apps such as Google Pay, Phone Pe, and Paytm. Surprisingly, this new method often results in these officials unintentionally providing evidence against themselves.

Vigilance investigators recently apprehended a sub-divisional officer from the power corporation named Mohan Lal and a lineman. They were caught accepting a bribe of ₹34,000 through Google Pay, in exchange for not disconnecting the electricity supply to a resident in Ludhiana. Although they were caught in the act with ₹5,000 in bribe money, further inquiries uncovered that they had actually received a total of ₹34,000 through digital means.

Varinder Kumar, the chief director of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau, revealed that in recent times, they have encountered approximately twelve similar cases. Kumar remarked, “Interestingly, this situation simplifies our task. It becomes more straightforward to establish their wrongdoing in a court of law when there is a distinct digital record of the money transactions.”

In a parallel incident, on May 23, the vigilance authorities apprehended Head Constable Raghunath Singh, who was stationed at the Bhargo camp in Jalandhar city. He was caught accepting a bribe amounting to ₹2,100, divided into two payments made through the digital payment app, PhonePe. Singh had been soliciting a bribe from a resident of Uttarakhand in exchange for facilitating the chemical examination of a deceased person’s viscera. The complaint regarding this bribery attempt was filed on the Chief Minister’s anti-corruption helpline, prompting the investigators to take immediate action.

Jalandhar currently leads the state with the highest number of digital bribery cases, with a total of five such incidents reported in recent times.

Patwari Ranjodh Singh from Pahuwind Circle in Amritsar found himself entangled in a vigilance investigation for accepting a bribe of ₹4,000 via Google Pay. In a separate incident, Abhay Kumar Patwari, stationed in Tibbi Khurd, Ferozepur, was apprehended while receiving ₹5,000 in bribes. Another patwari by the name of Amritpal, located in Barnala, was also caught accepting ₹5,000 through Google Pay.

Sukhwinder Singh, who worked as a clerk for the Fazilka education officer, was another individual involved in such illegal activities.

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While some government officials unwittingly get themselves into trouble by leaving behind a clear digital trail, others employ more cunning methods.

An unnamed official revealed, “We encountered a recent case where an official was found carrying a Digital QR code scanner, which was connected to a shop in his vicinity, for transactions. He managed to escape without any consequences because the bribe money was transferred to the shopkeeper, who cleverly presented it as payment for goods he had supposedly sold. Unfortunately, our attempt to catch him red-handed failed.”

A spokesperson from the vigilance department mentioned that numerous complaints of a similar nature have been reported through the Chief Minister’s anti-corruption helpline. They assured that each case is being thoroughly examined individually.

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