SIT formed to probe illicit liquor trade, smuggling in Punjab

Chandigarh, Jun 5 (PTI) The Punjab government on Friday announced it will set up a special investigation team to probe the illicit sale and smuggling of liquor during the coronavirus lockdown.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the three-member SIT will be headed by Water Resources Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and undertake thorough investigations into the racket.

'We will check every distillery and we will see what was their stock position. We will come to know everything,' Singh said during a video conference with the media here.

He said that such large-scale illicit sale of liquor and smuggling from other states could not have been possible without involvement of 'some insiders'.

A full-fledged probe would be conducted by the SIT to ascertain all facts, including complicity of excise department officials, he said.

All those involved, including the kingpins, will be identified and arrested, the chief minister added.

The Congress-led government has been under fire from the opposition for alleged liquor smuggling and sale of illicit liquor during the lockdown period.

The Shiromani Akali Dal had alleged that the liquor mafia in league with some Congress leaders and legislators had caused a loss of Rs 5,600 crore to the state exchequer by allowing liquor from distilleries without payment of excise duty.

Asked to comment on the possible involvement of the official machinery in the alleged seed scam, the chief Minister said the matter was being probed by the SIT- headed by an additional director general of police-level officer.

He said the Punjab Agricultural University had produced nearly 3,000 quintals of PR 128 and 129 varieties of paddy seed on trial basis, whereas 30,000 quintals had been sold in the open market to farmers by unscrupulous dealers.

This clearly indicated that spurious seeds were also mixed to these new varieties to fleece innocent farmers and the SIT would get to the bottom of the scam, he said. PTI CHS VSD DPB DPB