Food Management and Trading Company Ltd still undecided on a legal case to file against Mugu rice supplierThe accused admitted to supplying subsidised rice meant for Karnali to Bhaktapur.
Last month, a truck loaded with rice was intercepted by police in Surkhet. The truck was carrying subsidised rice meant for Karnali Province but it was headed to Bhaktapur in Bagmati Province. An internal investigation launched by the Food Management and Trading Company Ltd found a “serious mistake” on the part of the supplier, Durga Bhagwati Enterprises and Sharma Transportation Service.
On November 3, the District Police Office in Surkhet arrested Basudev Sharma, the proprietor of the rice supplying company. Following an investigation, Sharma, his wife Sharmila and two of his aides Shivaraj Regmi and Birendra Kumar Thapa were charged with black marketeering. They were granted bail release earlier this week.
The Food Management and Trading Company Ltd, meanwhile, has not initiated any legal process into the matter yet.
“The concerned supplier has made a serious mistake. We have prepared a report accordingly,” said Dilliram Lamsal, who led an inquiry into the case. “We have not discussed what case to file against the supplier. It might take a week to decide.”
While Lamsal agrees that the rice supplier had swindled both the company and the public, he said they can only talk about the case after consulting with legal advisers.
Sharma has already admitted to the police that the rice meant for the people of Karnali was being used to prepare alcohol in Bhaktapur.
In his recorded statement, he has said that the people in Karnali did not prefer the Japanese variety of rice they had been getting at subsidised rate and he had been supplying the rice to Bhaktapur.
“I used to send the Japanese rice to Bhaktapur to make alcohol as it was hard to sell in Karnali,” Sharma said in his statement.
Although Sharma remained tight-lipped about the quantity of such rice transported to Bhaktapur, the truck driver, Thapa, has admitted to transporting the rice to Bhaktapur at least five or six times.
Investigation has found that Sharma had been supplying the subsidised rice to Durga Bhagwati Enterprises in Bhaktapur. However, no action has been pursued against Durga Bhagwati Enterprises.
Superintendent of Police Rajendra Bhatta, the police chief of Surkhet, said it was still unclear whether the subsidised rice was found in Bhaktapur or not.
Sharma’s company had signed an agreementnt with the Food Management and Trading Company Ltd to transport 7,000 quintal of rice in six different places in Karnali in the current fiscal year. The transportation service had taken 1,100 quintals of rice from the company’s godown to supply it to Kalai food distribution centre of Mugu. Two hundred and fifty quintals of rice were seized while it was being transported to Bhaktapur but the whereabouts of the rest of the grains is still unknown.
In a letter to the Food Management and Trading Company Ltd on November 9, Sharma had informed that some of the rice had already reached the designated place while some amount of rice was on its way to their original destinations.
Madhab Mishra, provincial chief of the Food Management and Trading Company Ltd in Surkhet, said the office was yet to receive details about how much rice reached the designated places.
Police have returned the seized rice to Sharma as per the instruction of the attorney’s office in Surkhet.
District attorney Rajeshwor Aryal said Sharma and his aides could still be charged with a fraud case.