Concern Police constitutes SIT to probe sugar scam
FCI-CAPD Officials In dock; 4 Arrested; 4 Trucks Seized
Srinagar, Feb 25: What could be a tip of the iceberg, tonnes of sugar meant for aam aadmi in Kashmir is being sold in open market by private dealers allegedly in league with officials of the Food Corporation of India and the Consumers Affairs and Public Distribution Department (CAPD) in Jammu and Kashmir. While the sugar never reaches the deserved ones, the officials at the FCI and CAPD are understood to be issuing receipt vouchers against something they haven’t received—an assertion which is now under the scanner of the Special Investigation Team of Police, constituted to thoroughly probe the matter.
Informed sources said the scam is being investigated by Police Station Saddar, with the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Srinagar, now constituting a Special Investigation Team to probe the scandal involving millions of rupees.
The issue, the sources said, surfaced when a Kashmir-based FCI authorised Transport Company— responsible for the movement of food grains and sugar from FCI rail head (New Godown) Jammu to FCI depots in Srinagar, Lethpora and Kupwara—sensed fraud in transportation of the essential commodity.
“On 12 Feb 2011 we were informed by our supervisors posted at FCI new godown Jammu that two trucks with registration no’s JK02AA / 0629 and JK02AE / 3719 belonging to Vikas Transport Company have managed to get them loaded with sugar destined for Srinagar by arranging the loading requisition slips from one of the transport service agencies we normally hire trucks from. On further investigation it was revealed that the two more trucks belonging to Vikas Transport Co. had likewise been loaded with Sugar for FSD Srinagar on 09.02.2011 vide registration no’s JK02L / 5229 and JK02AE / 2499,” reads the letter, forwarded by the aggrieved company, to the FCI officials and Police. “What appears to be distrustful and cynical in this act is that Vikas Transport Company is responsible for transportation of food grains and sugar to FCI Baramulla depot and some local stations only, and thus, had nothing to do with the stocks destined to FCI Srinagar depot, that too, when this firm isn’t able to meet the requirement of trucks even for its own contracted Baramulla depot. It is very certain and evident that these trucks have been intentionally loaded by the said company with our stocks, seemingly destined to our station, with a clear intention of misappropriation. You are requested to look into this matter personally so as to curb this day by day increasing menace of misappropriation of food grains in our state and these disappointing instances of nexus between those behind these unlawful activities and the ones responsible to put a check on them.”
While the number plates of the two trucks were changed, police documents say these sugar laden trucks were sold in open market in Anantnag (Islamabad) to a wholesale merchant, who in turn sold it to the ICDS Ananganwari at Shangus and Achabal. It is understood that six trucks were so far out, of which the sugar in four had been sold in open market. The sugar has also been recovered from a merchant in south Kashmir.
The 2-page Police FIR (31/2011)—a copy of which is with Greater Kashmir—says the Sugar was recovered by a team of police station Saddar which has sealed it and put it under lock. Four persons, including a supervisor of CAPD from Budgam, have been arrested in this connection so far and booked under 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act u/s 420, 406, 409, 418, 471 and 120 B of Ranbir Penal Code. The sections, the sources said, are pertaining to forgery of documents, misappropriation of goods, fraud and criminal breach.
Sources said police recovered some documents with regard to the scandal, which showed how breach was taking place at the Lower Munda Toll Post on the Srinagar-Jammu highway and how fake vouchers were being shown against the sugar which is never supplied to the people on ground.
Sources said the essential commodities are no doubt lifted from FCI Jammu, but it is either sold in open market in Jammu itself or in Srinagar. “It doesn’t reach the CAPD depots. But it is interesting to note that the FCI and CAPD issue receipts with regard to the material. This makes it clear that it is a big scam involving the FCI and CAPD officials as well,” they said. “Also a million dollar question is how this sugar shortage is compensated on ground at the end. And it might not be the issue of sugar only but rice as well.”
While the scandal has now reached the Chief Minister’s office via his Grievance Cell (Complaint no 20109), the aggrieved company has shot an email to Omar Abdullah, asking him to look into the scam.
While it is alleged that police was trying to hush up the case as it might open up Pandora’s box, it is understood that Omar has asked the police top brass to get the matter probed thoroughly.
The CAPD authorities have kept their fingers crossed over the issue. “So far our reports say that there was no breach anywhere and our depots have received the stocks of February while those of March are yet to be lifted,” said its Director, Abdul Waheed Tak. “But we cannot rule out anything fishy. I recently visited Budgam depot on an inspection and found some officials absent there. I have instituted an inquiry on why they were absent. But I must say that it is a matter of investigation as to who is behind the movement of sugar laden trucks.”
Tak said his department was ready to cooperate with police. “If any CAPD official is involved, we would certainly punish him. There is no point hushing up the case. The only problem is that we can’t probe the matter because police is investigating it and all the documents, trucks have been seized by them,” he told Greater Kashmir.
The Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Meraj Ahmad Kakroo, said he didn’t know much about the issue. “I only know that police is investigating the case,” he said.
SIT TO PROBE SCAM
A senior police official, privy to the inquiry, said police has now constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the matter. “We have so far recovered sugar of four trucks which was sold in the open market. We have also recovered two more trucks laden with sugar which are in our possession,” the official, insisting not to be named, said. “Two of these trucks were meant for Budgam depots, two for Srinagar and two for Baramulla. But the sugar in four of them had been sold to a merchant in Anantnag (Islamabad).”
The official said there was involvement in the issue at three levels including the government level, the FCI level and at the level of private transporters. “Prima facie it seems to be a big nexus, which might be involving more and more people. Right now we have produced challan against some people. But since the cognizance of the issue has been taken at the highest levels in state administration, police has gone active and constituted the four member SIT, which would be headed by an IPS officer,” the official said.
The SIT would be headed by Sujit Kumar, SP South, who is shortly heading for Jammu in connection with the probe.
When contacted, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Srinagar, Abdul Gani Mir said SIT would probe the matter thoroughly. “We have kept senior officers in the SIT. I am sure the issue would be thoroughly investigated,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Feb 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Feb 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Feb 2011 00:00:00 IST
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