Chandigarh, June 2:

Even as one more person was arrested, and another 12 dealerships were revoked for selling unauthorised non-certified seeds in Ludhiana, Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta on Tuesday constituted a state-level Special Investigation Team (SIT) to get to the bottom of the racket across districts.

This SIT, headed by headed by ADGP Punjab Bureau of Investigation (PBI) & State Crime Record Bureau (SCRB) Naresh Arora, 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, said the DGP.

Other members of he SIT are IGP Crime Nageshwar Rao, Police Commissioner, Ludhiana Rakesh Agrawal, Joint Director Agriculture Sukhdev Singh and Deputy Commissioner of Police, Law & Order Ludhiana Ashwani Kapoor. The SIT would work under the supervision of Director, Bureau of Investigation Punjab. The ADGP PBI & SCRB has also been mandated to co-opt any other domain expert/consultant or any other Police officer to take the investigations forward expeditiously.

Giving details of the arrest made by the Ludhiana SIT, set up to probe the case registered on complaint of Chief Agriculture Officer under sections 3, 8, 9 of Seed Control Order Act, 2, 3, 7 of Essential Commodities Act and 420 of IPC, the DGP said the accused had been identified as Baljinder Singh alias Ballian s/o Bhagat singh r/o village Bhundri of Ludhiana district. Baljinder’s arrest followed that of Harwinder Singh alias Kaka Brar, who was arrested earlier for his alleged involvement in the scam.

Owner of 34 acres of land in Jagraon, Baljinder is a member of farmers association formed by 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 PAU for sowing on trial basis to assess the results. However, he 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.

Meanwhile, continuing with their crackdown on illegal/unauthorised sale of seeds, the Ludhiana district administration, accompanied by police and agriculture department officials, has so far raided/inspected a total 1900 premises of seed dealers. During the raids, 12 dealers were found selling unauthorised seeds, and their licences have been revoked, according to ACS (Development) Viswajeet Khanna.  FIRs are being registered against all these dealers, and their stores have been sealed, said Khanna.

Khanna said some unscrupulous dealers seemed to be taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation, which had prevented PAU from organising Kisan Melas to release seeds of superior varieties of crops.

PAU has been aske to change its protocols to ensure that in future no person is able to procure under-trial seeds for unauthorised sale in the market, said Khanna. The Agriculture Department has also advised  farmers not to buy any agro input without a proper bill in order to ensure stringent action against firms selling substandard or unauthorized seeds.

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