A non-government organisation, aping the government’s fair price shop scheme, has allegedly swindled hundreds of hinterland residents of large sums of money with the promise of helping them set up cheap foodgrain outlets.
Police have begun investigations against Jeevan Adhar — which had its “head office” at Choudhary Market in Ranchi’s Ratu Road — based on an FIR registered a month by victims from Latehar and Bundu and Silli (both in Ranchi district) at Sukhdeonagar police station.
According to the FIR, the NGO “permitted” the victims to open Sasta Anaj Kendras, each for a demand draft of Rs 7,700, and promised to supply foodgrains at a subsidised rate for distribution among the poor. Sukhdeonagar OC Pramod Pandey said the organisation never kept its word and its functionaries went missing from their Ranchi office soon after a considerable sum of money filled their coffers.
During a visit to the NGO’s head office on March 23, its development officer Rajendra Patil had told The Telegraph that they would supply foodgrains from April 1 for which Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 were being collected every day from those interested to open the Sasta Anaj Kendras. He is, currently, incommunicado.
“Our investigations are at an advanced stage and Kotwali DSP Surendra Pal Singh is leading the probe. Two days ago, four more persons had come from Tamar with similar allegations. They have been forwarded to Singh who will record their statement,” he said, refusing to divulge details.
While the police are trying to track down the NGO members, another advertisement strangely appeared in a local vernacular daily on Thursday, inviting more applications for Sasta Anaj Kendras in Garhwa, Palamau, Hazaribagh, Chatra, Latehar, Gumla and Lohardaga.
In the advertisement, Jeevan Adhar claims to be only second to the government in providing subsidised foodgrain to the rural poor.
It also claims to ISO 9001-2000 certified and NABCB accredited with 22,000 centres in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Bengal, Assam, Haryana and Gujarat.
The advertisement says the organisation has been supplying foodgrains in Jharkhand since December 27, 2011, and has fixed September 7 as the last date for submitting applications.
DSP Singh said they suspected the organisation was running its business from somewhere in Maharashtra.
“In the beginning, it did supply grains, but later its officials wound up operations and vanished. I have recorded statements of 12 people from Tamar, Koderma and Latehar. We hope to nail the kingpin soon,” he added.
Incidentally, in February, the Ranchi district administration had directed police to act against Jeevan Adhar based on a January 19 report submitted by special rationing officer Kaushal Kishore Thakur to then deputy commissioner K.K. Soan, indicating dubious credentials of the organisation. But, police could not act because the report was “based on mere suspicion”.
However, registration of an FIR last month has given the case the much-needed impetus.