GUWAHATI: An alleged multi-crore rupees foodgrain scam, involving the Food Corporation of India (FCI), Shillong, has shaken the Meghalaya government.
The Assam Police unearthed the scam by seizing one lakh bags of rice from a private godown in Boko of Kamrup district, Assam. Each bag contained 50 kg of rice.
The Assam Police said the matter was under investigation. “A huge quantity of rice was seized and we are going by the laws. We have written to the agency concerned. A response is awaited,” Kamrup Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Kalyan Kumar Pathak told The New Indian Express.
Earlier, a case was registered by the police suo motu under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The maximum punishment under these IPC Sections is imprisonment up to seven years, the DSP said.
The Meghalaya government has washed its hands of the incident but some influential organisations in the state are going for its jugular while opposition Congress and BJP, which is a constituent of the state’s ruling coalition, are demanding a probe and the arrest of the culprits.
Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma said the incident had nothing to do with the public distribution system (PDS) in Meghalaya. He said the verbal reports he received suggested the state has received its quota of PDS rice under the National Food Security Act, 2013, for May and June in advance.
“We have no idea if Meghalaya rice is lying in Assam,” the CM said.
He also said that if rice of such a huge quantity had gone missing, it would have come to everyone’s notice. However, the Congress and the BJP were not amused.
Terming the “diversion” as unacceptable, the Congress demanded the matter be probed by a high-level committee. “This is a huge violation of the rights of the people of Meghalaya,” party MLA, Ampareen Lyngdoh said.
The BJP demanded the arrest of all those involved. “The rice was meant for the poor. If it a case of diversion, the culprits should be booked,” BJP’s state vice president, Bernard Marak said.
The alleged diversion has ruffled the feathers of some NGOs. The Civil Society Women’s Organisation demanded the government to register an FIR while Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) called for social auditing of the Supplementary Nutrition Programme. TUR sniffed corruption in the implementation of the programme under the state’s Social Welfare Department.
The FCI is maintaining silence. Its senior officials were not available for comments.