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Extortion from pesticide dealers: 3 years and counting, no challan in sight as home dept seeks more info

Hindustan Times, Bathinda | By Sachin Kumar, Bathinda
UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2020 11:22 PM IST

The filing of chargesheet in the case involving alleged extortion from pesticide dealers wherein three agriculture department officials were arrested in July 2016 with 4.50 lakh is set to be delayed further with the state home affairs department seeking more clarifications from police for granting approval to submit the document.

It was after the home department flagged certain points for granting permission to file the challan, the police in December last year sent a file addressing the points raised.

But the department has again raised objections to which the police are yet to respond.

The then agriculture department joint director Sarabjit Singh Kandhari, agriculture development officers (ADOs) Gurdyal Kumar and Vivek Shankar were arrested by police on July 21, 2016 night from a private hotel at Barnala bypass in Bathinda.

The three were on an official visit to collect samples from godowns and shops to check the quality of pesticides. The quality inspection was important in the wake up for the 2015 pesticide scam when cotton crop was damaged on a large scale due to whitefly attack as spurious pesticides were sold to farmers.

The three allegedly demanded money from the dealers by threatening that they will not let samples of pesticides collected pass quality test.

A case under Section 384 (extortion) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under Section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against the three who were suspended but were reinstated later.

Kandhari superannuated from service in December and sought extension but was not granted the same. The two accused ADOs are still serving in the department.

Bathinda SSP Nanak Singh the file seeking permission will again be sent to the home department soon with the requisite documents.

Agriculture department director Sutantar Kumar Airi said his department has nothing to do with the sanction to file chargesheet against the accused.

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