May 11, 2020 8:21:38 pm
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar Monday approved constitution of a special investigation team (SIT), headed by senior IAS officer TC Gupta, to investigate the huge stock of liquor going missing from two godowns in Sonipat, and the alleged sale of illicit liquor in the state.
Home Minister Anil Vij had recommended names of three IAS officers Ashok Khemka, Gupta and Sanjeev Kaushal for heading the SIT, which will also have IPS officer Subhash Yadav and Additional Excise Commissioner Vijay Singh as its members.
Vij later said that “the SIT will be submitting its report to him by May 31”.
The SIT will be probing the case of alleged theft of huge stocks of liquor from a godown in Sonipat in the last few months. The godown was meant to store liquor that was being seized by the police and excise department.
About 5,500 boxes of liquor which were recovered from smugglers by police and excise officials in 14 cases had disappeared from the stock. Vij had already ordered registration of a criminal case in the matter and also placed two station house officers under suspension.
Haryana Police last week arrested main accused Bhupinder Singh from Sector 50, Chandigarh. At the time of his arrest, police also seized Rs 97 lakh cash, two pistols, one Range Rover and certain documents.
Bhupinder Singh owns the godown. He is also facing more than 15 cases of liquor smuggling.
Liquor vends in Haryana were closed from March 27 after the lockdown was announced, but have now reopened from May 6 following a state government order.
The state government is apprehending that during the lockdown period, such a pilferage in liquor stocks might have taken place in other districts also.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda Monday said the liquor scam is not limited to just one warehouse, but has much larger ramifications. “The SIT should also examine how the sale of liquor was going on in Haryana even though the liquor vends were closed. Who was leading this illegal sale? Whose patronage did those people enjoy?”
Hooda claimed that liquor was illegally being sold in Haryana during lockdown and hence there was no rush when its sale was allowed on May 6. “When liquor vends opened in other states like Delhi, UP, Chhattisgarh, there were long queues and vends at some places had to be closed. But no such scene was witnessed in Haryana and the reason for this was that liquor smuggling was going on and liquor was being illegally sold during lockdown,” he said.
The former chief minister said it was a “serious issue” and the government should thoroughly probe it.
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