Friday, December 15, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Film producer Rizvi remanded

MUMBAI, Dec 14 (PTI) — Film producer Nazim Hassan Rizvi, held in cases of murderous assault and extortion, was today remanded in police custody till December 27 by a special court.

Rizvi, who allegedly conspired with Karachi-based gangster Chhota Shakeel to eliminate some key Bollywood personalities, was produced amid tight security before designated judge A.P. Bhangale.

He has been booked under the IPC and the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

The police claims to have recorded telephonic conversations between Rizvi and Shakeel which allegedly reveal that film personalities were targeted by them for personal gains.



Procurement staff on the warpath
By A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 14 — Thousands of field staff of the official foodgrain procurement agencies in Punjab have threatened to go on an indefinite strike from Monday if the government does not come to their rescue and bail them out of the “food mess” which, they allege, has been created by Punjab ministers and MLAs belonging to the ruling SAD-BJP alliance.

Field staff of the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation, one of the official food procurement agencies, have already been on an indefinite strike for the past about one week in protest against the registration of a “corruption case” against certain employees of the corporation at Patiala. Employees alleged that the case was “false and baseless” which could be brought out easily provided an impartial inquiry was conducted by the MLAs and Ministers concerned who ordered them to purchase all available paddy even if it did not meet the specifications laid down by the Government of India.

The Punjab State Foodgrains Agencies Field Employees Coordination Committee consisting of employees from the Food and Civil Supplies Department, Markfed, Punsup, the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation and the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, has already served notice in this regard on the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the Food Minister, Mr Madan Mohal Mittal. The Food Minister is reported to have already discussed the matter with the Chief Minister, but no solution has been found so far.

This is bad news for Punjab which is already awash with overflowing paddy and wheat godowns, with rotting foodgrains stored in every available space in the state. Since the offtake from the state is very low, the quality of stored foodgrains is bound to deteriorate further.

A total of 102.52 lakh tonnes of paddy has been purchased in Punjab so far this year. Of this, the FCI has purchased 27.57 lakh tonnes and the state government agencies 57.75 lakh tonnes. Another 1.71 lakh tonnes has been purchased by private millers, taking the grand total to 102.52 lakh tonnes.

It is stated that while the FCI purchases generally conformed to the specifications which were laid down by the Government of India, the field staff of the state government allowed themselves to be pressurised by the Ministers and MLAs of different areas to purchase even that paddy which did not conform to even the relaxed specifications announced by the Centre after the Chief Minister took up the issue with the Prime Minister about two months ago.

This has resulted in a situation in which the state government procurement agencies have been saddled with lakhs of tonnes of substandard paddy which is now being rejected by the millers. The impasse at Patiala is precisely this. Substandard paddy purchased under pressure from the Ministers and MLAs is now being rejected by the millers, forcing the authorities to register “corruption cases” against the field staff members concerned. This in turn has led to protests and agitation from the field staff who say that they are being penalised for no fault of theirs.

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