HISTORY OF PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION SCAM IN ARUNACHAL PRADESHThe former Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Gegong Apang was reportedly accused for his involvement in the Rs 1,000-crore public distribution system scandal and was placed in police custody for a period of seven days. At the time of Gegong Apang arrest he was 61 year old and he was charged on various grounds like for cheating and forgery under IPC and relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The scam was detected after false and inflated bills for procurement and transportation of food grain meant for public distribution system were found. The Public Interest Litigation reported that HTS and road transport charges payments were made on the basis of fake bills submitted through the Federal Correctional Institution by the Arunachal Pradesh government while PDS items were actually never lifted from FCI godowns for distribution among the people.
SCANDAL IN THE HISTORY OF INDIAOnce again a big fraud or scandal in the history of India involving a sum of Rs.1,000 crores of the government money apparently misappropriated by a small close-knit group of people including politicians-bureaucrats-contractors in Arunachal Pradesh came to light. It was suspected that many businessmen from Assam too were involved in it. The Arunachal Pradesh government formed a Special Investigation team to enquire about the public distribution system scam. Gegong Apang was convened for an investigation by the Special Investigation Cell of the Vigilance department of the government in Itanagar. After the investigation he was arrested under various clauses of non-bailabe grounds and later he was produced before the court of the district sessions judge in Assam's Lakhimpur district. The Adi descent of Gegong Apang served as the Chief Minister of the North East state Arunachal Pradesh for a long period of time from January 18, 1980 to January 19, 1999 and again from August 2003 to April 2007 only when Dorjee Khandu took the place of Chief Minister.
THE PERIOD OF GEGONG APANG INARUNACHAL PRADESHHowever now Gegong Apang has joined the Bharathya Janata Party. Gegong Apang has seen lot of victories in the assembly elections for he won in the Yingkiong-pangin Assembly Constituency in the years 1978, 1980 and 1984. Later he won assembly elections in 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2004 from Upper Siang district's Tuting-Yingkiong Assembly Constituency of Arunachal Pradesh, which is reserved for Schedule Tribe. Gegong Apang served as the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh from 1980 to 1999 and had to resign because he was subjected to a no- confidence voting motion which was caused by a split in the ruling Congress Party. Gegong Apang under his leadership and guidance formed the United Democratic Front in 2003 which is an alliance of his own political party, the Arunachal Congress and several others. Later in 2003 itself Gegong Apang along with few of his other supporting MLAs joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. A point to be noted is that it was only during the period of Gegong Apang one of the north eastern states -Arunchal Pradesh was ruled by the BJP which was a milestone in the political history of BJP.
THE BJP-RULED NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCEHowever during the 2004 elections the BJP-ruled National Democratic Alliance lost in the center and due to this Gegong Apang came back to the Indian National Congress. In October, Congress won a majority in state assembly elections, with Apang obtaining the Chief Minister position. From 2004 to 2007 Gegong Apang remained as the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh only due to pressure from other Congress MLAs which further elected Dorjee Khandu as Congress Legislature Party leader. Gegong Apang was reportedly accused for his corruption relating to the Public Distribution System involving a huge amount of about 1000 crores and was arrested in August 2010. However Gegong Apang denied on the charges put forth on him and professed that they are done with a political motivation, though it was very clear from the government side that the investigation was conducted independently and without political interference. The scam apparently involved fraudulent hill transport subsidy bills that were passed while Apang was Chief Minister without the required financial oversight.
INVESTIGATIONThe SIC was formed at the instruction of the Guwahati high court after it had taken up a public interest litigation filed by activist Bamang Tago who alleged enormous theft of public money in the name of payment of hill transport subsidy. At the time of investigation of Gegong Apang in the Lakhimpur court, Apang took the credit of being one of the longest serving Chief Minister in the country after West Bengal's Jyoti Basu. Gegong Apang affirmed to be innocent in concern to the Public Distribution System scam and that it is very clear that the charges against him were a "political ploy" done with a stratagem to stain his image in his political life. He in fact told the media and in the court of jury requested for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation. An official or authoritative instruction was given by the Gauhati high court of the Arunachal Pradesh government which organized for a Special Investigation Cell to investigate the Public Distribution System Scam. The court's order came in the emerge of a Public Interest Litigation filed by Arunachal Citizens' Rights (ACR) chairperson Bamang Tago and a mass leader, Domin Loya, on June 13, 2004. The two had professed that hill transport subsidy bills for carrying Public Distribution System items to Arunachal from warehouses in Assam's North Lakhimpur were claimed in illegal deception ways.
They had also claimed that the bills were cleared without any financial agreement when Gegong Apang was the Chief Minister of the hill state. An official who was investigating the case clearly stated that the treasury of the state government had suffered a loss of about Rs 1,000 crores due to such illegal activity claims of hill transport subsidy bills. The investigating officer, Chauhan who was heading the Special Investigation Cell of the state in a statement reported that Gegong Apang was arrested based on the grounds of material evidence produced against him and statements given by other people who were charge sheeted as accused in the Public Distribution system scam. Also Chauhan the investigating officer from the Vigilance Department said that they provided Gegong Apang with a set of questionnaires and in spite of the three summons which was issued to him earlier, Apang when appeared before the Investigating panel did not accept his knowledge of any details or persons involved in the Public Distribution System scam.
Gegong Apang has been charged under various sections like 120b (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 409 (criminal breach of trust) of IPC read with B-2 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. M.S. Chauhan on an interview with the Hindu stated that they have documentary materials and oral evidences given by co-accused of Gegong Apang's involvement in the Public Distribution System scam of siphoning government money by making false and fraudulent subsidy bills. The government of India has incurred a loss of about Rs. 1,000 crores in the Public Distribution System scandal caused in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Mr Chauhan heading the Special Investigating Cell of the Vigilance Department stated that more than 50 people along with Gegong Apang have been considered as accused and charge sheets was filed in the Gauhati High Court in at least 8 cases probed by the Special Investigating Cell regarding to the scam.
DIRECTIVE OF THE GAUHATI HIGH COURT
So far, more than 30 of the accused have been arrested while some of them availed anticipatory bails. The SIC was constituted at the directive of the Gauhati High Court following a public interest litigation filed in 2004 seeking a thorough probe into the Public Distribution System scam. The Public Distribution System scam involving a huge amount of nearly Rs.1000 crores came into light only after public interest litigation (PIL) was filed on June 13, 2004 by two people namely Bamang Tegu and Domin Loya. Once this problem was raised the Congress-ruled state government set up a special investigation team to probe into the alleged misappropriation of funds by illegal ways. Gegong Apang was ticketed under various grounds like section 120b (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 409 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code.
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