Goods worth ₹16 lakh stolen from engineering department store in Chandigarh
FIR registered; insider’s role suspected as locks of rooms from where over 5,000 sanitaryware items got stolen, were intactUpdated: Sep 03, 2019, 00:55 IST
More than 5,100 sanitaryware items were reported stolen from the store of public health wing of the UT engineering department in Timber Market, Sector 26, here, on Monday. A first information report (FIR) has been registered and a departmental inquiry has been ordered in the matter.
While the official count of the loss to the department is yet to be made, the department insiders claim the stolen items, which include brass stopcocks and valves, are worth more than ₹16 lakh.
The theft came to light on August 19 when the junior engineer in-charge of the store, Ramesh Kumar Shukla, noticed several items missing from one of the rooms of the store.
In the complaint to the police, Shukla stated that he took over the charge of the store in April, when all the items as per the records were in place. He checked the store items on July 18 when all the items were intact. But, when on August 19, he came to allot some items to a functionary of another wing of the department, he found several items, mainly brass sanitary ware, missing from the store. All the doors of the room from where the items were stolen were intact and so were the locks on these doors.
The department officials suspect the theft to have taken place between July 18 and August 19. “We suspect that all the items were not stolen in one go but on a piecemeal basis so as not raise suspicion of the officials,” said a senior UT engineering department official privy to the development.
To fix the responsibility of the officials concerned, a departmental inquiry has been ordered in the matter. Not ruling out the involvement of department insiders, public health superintendent engineer Rajender Singh Ahluwalia said, “The department has constituted an inquiry team under the division 8 executive engineer to investigate the matter. The theft occurred despite watchmen posted at the store. The inquiry will look into all aspects of the incident and report on the matter. The police were also informed about the theft, following which an FIR has been registered.”
Significantly, the police were informed two days after the theft came to the notice of the department officials. A case under Sections 380 (theft) and 457 () of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered against unidentified persons at the East Sector 26 police station.
A senior engineering department official, who didn’t want to be named, said, “There are only two watchmen on duty at the store, which is spread over seven acres, and has items worth over ₹1 crore.”
The policy of giving multiple charges to a single officer in the engineering department has also come under scrutiny after the theft.
“Even the junior engineer (JE) in-charge of the store has several other charges. The store clerk is also deputed on multiple duties other than the store. The department should follow the lead of the Chandigarh municipal corporation where officials were divested of multiple charges and asked to take responsibility of only one charge,” said the official.