The enforcement branch on Sunday failed to track down four men allegedly behind the attempt to smuggle 450 tonnes of wheat meant for the poor in Bengal to Bangladesh.
“We are trying to track the owners of three flour mills and a trader who has bagged a contract to supply wheat to Bangladesh at a rate cheaper than the market price. Pockets in Budge Budge and Bishnupur have been raided but the four could not be traced,” said an enforcement branch officer.
The smuggling attempt was thwarted on Saturday with the seizure of the 450 tonnes of wheat from a ship that was about to set sail for Bangladesh from the Kidderpore port. The Centre had released the wheat for distribution among below-poverty-line people in Bengal.
The drivers of 20 of the 36 lorries used to transport the wheat from the Food Corporation of India godown in Budge Budge to the port are absconding.
The 18 people who were arrested on Saturday were produced in Bankshall court on Sunday. The master of the vessel, Anaulla Alam, a Bangladeshi, and clearing agent Prasanta Chakrabarty have been remanded in police custody till August 3.
For the rest, the police remand is till August 8.
The police said the wheat was supposed to be carried from the Budge Budge godown to the mills for grinding. The flour was to be packed in pouches weighing 750g each.
“We are investigating the role of FCI officials whose job was to monitor the transportation of the wheat bags from the godown. We have asked the FCI authorities to give us a list of employees involved in the functioning of the godown,” said an enforcement branch official.