Ex-telecom minister Sukh Ram dies at 94; cremation on Thursday
Sukh Ram, a former union minister and veteran Congress leader from Himachal Pradesh, died at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) early on Wednesday. He was 94. He had suffered a brain stroke in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi on Saturday and was airlifted to AIIMS. He died at 1:35 am, reports said. Sukh Ram will be cremated in Mandi on Thursday.
Sukh Ram's grandson Aashray Sharma announced the former telecom minister's death via Facebook post at 2 am. "Alvida dadajee, abhi nahi bajegee phone ki ghanti (Goodbye grandfather, the phone won't ring now)," Sharma wrote. Sharma also informed that his body would reach Mandi around 6 pm on Wednesday and would be kept at Seri Manch for people to pay their last respects on Thursday.
Sukh Ram was born on July 27, 1927, at Kotli village in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district. He represented the Mandi assembly seat from 1963 to 1984, before being elected to the Lok Sabha in 1984. He also served as a junior minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government as the minister of state for defense production and supplies, planning, and food and civil supplies.
From 1993 to 1996, Sukh Ram held the communications portfolio (independent charge). In 2011, he was sentenced to five years in jail for corruption in a 1996 telecom scam. His son Anil Sharma won the Mandi assembly seat in 1993, while Sukh Ram won the Lok Sabha seat in 1996. However, both of them were expelled from the party after the telecom scam.
In 2011, a special CBI court held Sukh Ram guilty of misusing his official position as telecom minister in 1996. He was convicted of taking Rs. 3 lakh bribe to give a contract worth Rs. 30 crore to a private firm called Haryana Telecom Ltd. to supply 3.5 lakh conductor kilometers (LCKM) of Polythene Insulated Jelly Filled cables to the department.
Sukh Ram and Anil Sharma founded the Himachal Vikas Congress Party, which entered into a post-poll alliance with the BJP. In 1998, Sukh Ram won the Mandi Sadar assembly seat. Before the 2019 general elections, Sukh Ram and his grandson Aashray Sharma rejoined the Congress. Sukh Ram's other grandson Aayush Sharma is an actor who is married to Bollywood star Salman Khan's sister Arpita.