Vigilance Bureau arrests Faridkot trader in Punjab paddy scam

The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) has arrested a trader from Faridkot, Kalu Ram, in connection with the paddy scam in the grain markets of Ludhiana and other districts.

Kalu Ram, who is from the New Abaadi area of Jaito in Faridkot district, was produced in a Ludhiana district court and sent to two days’ police custody. With this, 12 of the 16 accused have been arrested in the scam so far.

A VB spokesperson said on Friday that Kalu Ram was associated with absconding prime accused Rakesh Kumar Singla, a suspended deputy director of the food and civil supplies department, Punjab, and Bharat Bhushan Ashu, a former food and civil supplies minister.

Singla has been declared a proclaimed offender.

The spokesperson said Kalu Ram took advantage of his political connections and provided rice-millers Krishan Lal and Surinder Kumar Dhotiwala paddy from other states that was procured without the minimum support price (MSP) on the basis of forged bills. He helped the commission agents in fabricating bills, showing more crop in Ludhiana district instead of the actual production of paddy to get more money in lieu of the MSP from the state government.

The spokesperson said a case was registered under Sections 420, 465 , 468, 471, 120-B of the IPC and under the Prevention of Corruption Act at the VB’s Ludhiana range police station on August 16, 2022.

The other 11 accused are former minister Ashu, contractors Telu Ram, Jagroop Singh and Sandeep Bhatia, commission agents Anil Jain, Kishan Lal Dhotiwala and Surinder Kumar Dhotiwala, district food and supply controllers (DFSCs) Harveen Kaur and Sukhwinder Singh Gill besides two private assistants of former minister Ashu, Pankaj Malhotra and Inderjit Indi.

Two accused, Surinder Beri, DFSC (retd), and Jagandeep Dhillon, Punsup district manager, were granted anticipatory bail by the Punjab and Haryana high court, whereas the anticipatory bail application of accused Paramjeet Chechi was dismissed by the Supreme Court and he has been directed to surrender before the VB.

This article has been republished from The Hindustan Times

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