Punjab Police forms SIT to probe 'seed scam'

Chandigarh, Jun 2 (PTI) The Punjab Police on Tuesday constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the alleged seed scam, a day after the SAD claimed that farmers were likely to have suffered a loss of Rs 4,000 crore because of the supply of spurious paddy seeds.

The SIT constituted by Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta will be headed by Additional DGP Punjab Bureau of Investigation (PBI) and State Crime Record Bureau (SCRB) Naresh Arora.

The team will take over the Ludhiana SIT investigations conducted so far and will also look into any other existing/future complaints regarding sale of spurious/unauthorised seeds.

The SIT has been tasked with expeditious completion of the probe to ensure that all culprits are identified and arrested at the earliest, the DGP said in an official release here.

Other members of the SIT are IGP Crime Nageshwar Rao, Ludhiana Police Commissioner Rakesh Agrawal, Joint Director Agriculture Sukhdev Singh and Ludhiana DCP (Law and Order) Ashwani Kapoor.

Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia on Monday had claimed that farmers were likely to have suffered a loss of Rs 4,000 crore because of the supply of spurious and uncertified paddy seeds.

The DGP said a man identified as Baljinder Singh alias Ballian has been arrested in connection with the alleged seed scam.

Baljinder, the owner of 34 acres of land in Jagraon, is a member of a farmers' association formed by the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to give information to farmers about new seeds and techniques.

He was given the newly developed PR 128 and PR 129 of paddy seeds last year by the PAU for sowing on trial basis to assess the results.

However, he allegedly used the resultant crop to mass produce more seeds and sold them to Brar Seeds without authorisation.

Ludhiana Chief Agriculture Officer Narinder Singh Benipal pointed out that the sale was clearly illegal as trial seeds cannot be sold in the open market unless certified by the Central Seed Notified Committee.

Earlier, police had held Ludhiana-based seed store owner Harwinder Singh alias Kaka Brar.

Continuing with the crackdown on unauthorised sale of seeds, the Ludhiana district administration, along with police and agriculture department officials, has so far raided a total 1,900 premises of seed dealers.

During the raids, 12 dealers were found selling unauthorised seeds and their licences were revoked, another statement said.

FIRs are being registered against all these dealers and their stores have been sealed, Additional Chief Secretary Viswajit Khanna said.

The PAU has been asked to change its protocols to ensure that in future no person is able to procure under-trial seeds for unauthorised sale in the market, Khanna added. PTI CHS VSD SNE