Pesticide scam: 3 yrs on, challan against agriculture officials yet to be filed

It has been three years but the district police were yet to file chargesheet against three agriculture officials who were arrested with money allegedly extorted from pesticide dealers during their visit to check the quality of pesticides here in July 2016.
HT Image
HT Image
Published on Dec 29, 2019 10:54 PM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | BySachin Kumar, Bathinda

It has been three years but the district police were yet to file chargesheet against three agriculture officials who were arrested with money allegedly extorted from pesticide dealers during their visit to check the quality of pesticides here in July 2016.

Agriculture joint director Sarabjit Singh Kandhari and agriculture development officers (ADO) Gurdyal Kumar and Vivek Shankar were arrested by the police on the night of July 21, 2016, from a hotel on Barnala by-pass here.

The three were on official visit to collect samples of pesticides from different godowns and shops of Bathinda to check the quality of the same. The quality inspection of pesticides holds importance in the backdrop of 2015 pesticide scam when a large scale cotton crop was damaged owing to whitefly pest attack due to alleged supply of spurious pesticides.

Officials suspended and reinstated

The three had allegedly demanded money from pesticide dealers threatening them not to clear their samples. On information, a team of Civil Lines police station had arrested three with a cash of 4.50 lakh allegedly extorted from dealers. A case under Section 384 (extortion) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under Section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 was registered against them. They were suspended from the service but were later reinstated.

Kandhari at present is serving as joint director (extension and training). Gurdyal is ADO Mohali while Vivek Shankar is also posted as ADO at headquarters of the department. Kandhari is to superannuate from service on December 31. Interestingly, he has also applied for extension in service post retirement, said sources.

‘Clearance for chargesheet awaited from home dept’

Station House Officer Civil Lines police station inspector Ravinder Kumar said that they had sought permission from the department of home to file chargesheet against three but it had raised some points and we have again sent the file seeking permission to file chargesheet against them. Bathinda senior superintendent of police (SSP) Nanak Singh couldn’t be contacted despite repeated attempts.

An agriculture department official on condition of anonymity said that three were reinstated due to pending inquiry but were not given any major assignment.

Secretary, department of agriculture, Kahan Singh Pannu said the department can dismiss three from service only if they were convicted by a court. “The three were suspended on the basis of a parallel department inquiry,” he said. He declined to comment on Kandhari having applied for extension in service.

Punjab agriculture minister’s resignation was sought

Earlier, claiming the three senior officials were part of the pesticide scam, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had demanded Punjab agriculture minister Tota Singh’s resignation.

In a joint statement, AAP spokesperson Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Kanwar Sandhu and Aman Arora had accused the state government of shielding the real culprits in the case. “This extortion was being done at the behest of agriculture minister Tota Singh and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal. The agriculture department’s senior officials were mere ‘conduits’ for collecting money for their political purpose,” Khaira had said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • YSRCP MLA from Nellore, Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy sitting beside an overflowing drain in Umma Reddy Gunta.

    Andhra Pradesh MLA enters overflowing drain as mark of protest. Watch

    This time, an Andhra Pradesh legislator sat beside an overflowing drain in Nellore with YSR Congress MLA from Nellore Rural constituency, Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy's legged dipped in it as a mark of protest against the authorities alleging they ignored the repeated request to clean the drain. The legislator also warned that he will come again and sit in the drain in the Umma Reddy Gunta area if the authorities fail to clean it.

  • A screengrab of the viral video. (ANI)

    Eknath Shinde's wife plays drums to welcome the new Maharashtra CM | Watch

    A video of his wife, Lata Shinde, who welcomed back by playing drums playing the drums is going viral on social media. Read Didn't betray, revolted against injustice, Shinde andBJP's Devendra Fadnavis in Maha Assembly On June 30, saysMaharashtra chief minister Eknath Shindee, who was made the deputy CM in the new governmentr – were sworn in. The 'dissident' Shiv Sena faction has as many as 40 MLAs, which means that it can claim to be the 'real' Shiv Sena.

  • As Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has prohibited eateries from automatically or by default levying service charges on food bills, restaurateurs feel this isn’t in the welfare of their staff. (Photo: Sanchit Khanna/HT)

    Staff will suffer, feels restauranteurs; customers happy

    On Monday, the Central Consumer Protection Authority prohibited eateries from automatically or by default levying service charges on food bills. This decision has left restaurateurs feeling anxious as they think this isn't in the welfare of their staff. Prabhat Verma, who runs a food group, DRAG, says he's happy and excited with this change. Another foodie, Priyanka Talreja, says as a customer and frequent visitor to restaurants, it was a much-needed move.

  • Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (right) with deputy CM Manish Sisodia in the state assembly on Tuesday. (HT Photo)

    ‘Biggest proof of honesty’: Kejriwal, Sisodia hail CAG report on surplus revenue

    A day after the Comptroller and Auditor General of India said in an audit report that Delhi has been recording a revenue surplus since 2015, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said the numbers are the “biggest proof” of the Aam Aadmi Party's “honesty”. Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia presented the 2021 CAG report on state finances, for the financial year ending March 2020, in the Delhi assembly on Tuesday.

  • Despite spending around <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>20 crore on a sewerage system in the town in 2019, not even a single legitimate connection has been allotted to the households. (Image for representational purpose)

    No sewer connection allotted in Sangrur’s Bhawanigarh since 2019

    The municipal council of Sangrur's Bhawanigarh town has turned a mute spectator while residents are constantly enjoying unauthorised sewer connections, resulting in loss of crores to the civic body every year. Despite spending around Rs 20 crore on a sewerage system in the town in 2019, not even a single legitimate connection has been allotted to the households. This is despite the implementation of 'One Time Settlement Policy' in the state.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, July 06, 2022