Former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Gegong Apang was arrested on Tuesday for his alleged involvement in the Rs 1,000-crore PDS scam. He was later remanded to police custody for seven days.
The state’s special investigation cell arrested Apang and produced him in the Laximpur sessions court in Assam, as there is no court in Arunachal.
“Apang was arrested on the basis of material evidence and statements of the other accused,” SIC investigating officer M.S. Chauhan told PTI in Itanagar.
He said, “Despite three summons, he appeared before the SIC only today. He denied knowledge of the facts or persons involved in the scam.”
The SIC was constituted to probe the public distribution system scam, following an order from the Gauhati High Court. The court’s order followed a public interest litigation by Bamang Tago and Domino Loya of Arunachal’s Citizen Rights on June 13, 2004.
Apang, however, told media persons before entering the courtroom: “It is a political conspiracy against my good image. There should be a CBI inquiry into the scam. Then everything will come to light.”
During his tenure, the state government allegedly cleared false and fraudulent hills transport subsidy bills for PDS grains without financial concurrence.
Since Arunachal Pradesh is yet to have a railway network, the central government used to grant a hills transport subsidy to the state for running the PDS.
Till 2004, PDS goods were unloaded at Nagaon, Dibrugarh and Laximpur in Assam and were taken to different locations in Arunachal Pradesh. The subsidy was stopped after the PDS scam came to light in 2004.
Apang, a former top leader of the Congress in Arunachal Pradesh, ruled the state for 23 years — the second longest-serving chief minister in the country after West Bengal’s Jyoti Basu.
Although Apang resigned in 1999, he staged a comeback in 2003 as the leader of the United Democratic Front, a coalition led by his own party, the Arunachal Congress.
After a few months, Apang merged his party with the Bharatiya Janata Party and turned Arunachal into the first state in the northeast to be governed by the BJP.