At least 10 protesting members of the Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) youth wing were injured on Sunday when the Chandigarh police lathicharged the protesters demanding sacking of Punjab agriculture minister Tota Singh in connection with a pesticide scam.
The police also used water cannons and tear gas shells to disperse protesters who were trying to gherao Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's residence in Chandigarh. The youth wing of AAP in Punjab has demanded that retired high court judge probe Tota Singh and others' involvement in the pesticide scam, according to Hindustan Times report.
Youth wing in-charge Harjot Singh Bains claimed that the agriculture department supplied "spurious" pesticides to the cotton-growers. He blames the corruption in agriculture department for the loss suffered by the farmers.
"Had the minister been sacked, the pesticide scam could have been averted as it was due to the corruption in the agriculture department that thousands of cotton cultivators are living this nightmare as they were supplied spurious pesticides by the department," The Times of India quoted Bains as saying.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had on 30 November sent notices to Badal and agriculture minister on a petition seeking removal of Tota Singh as cabinet minster on the basis of a conviction in a corruption case and his alleged involvement in pesticide scam.
According to an inquiry report into the allegations of pesticide scam in the Punjab agriculture department, there were "serious irregularities/violations" in the purchase of pesticides by agriculture director Mangal Singh Sandhu, who went against agriculture minister's suggestions, PTI reported.
However, the farmers and opposition Congress have blamed Tota Singh for the alleged irregularities. Tota Singh has maintained that he is "clean".
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