The ongoing Itanagar to Delhi foot-march organized by Arunachal Against Corruption (AAC) has gained momentum so much that it has compelled the high-profile people who have suffered corruption allegations in the past to come forward and lay out their court judgment but in an unprecedented way.
On September 16, a former Chairman of the Rubber Board of the Government of Arunachal Pradesh, Likha Maj briefed the media in Itanagar about the details of the alleged corruption charges made by AAC leader Toko Sheetal against the present Chief Minister of the State, Pema Khandu.
In many media statements, in the past few months, Sheetal has voiced openly against Pema Khandu, while stating that Khandu had been involved in the PDS (Public Distribution System), scam, amounting to hundreds of crores, starting from 2004 onwards and also alleged that Khandu had manipulated the trial of the corruption cases that had happened in 2007 after a PIL was filed before the Guwahati High Court in 2004.
In the media briefing, Likha Maj said, “the allegations of Toko Sheetal against the Chief Minister Pema Khandu are wrong. It is a political game, a lie sponsored by some people who want to destroy the peace of the State and who want to bring shame to the State. Pema Khandu didn’t do any scams at all. I was the then contractor of PDS, in charge of the West Kameng and East Kameng areas. I supplied the essential commodities to the people residing in Tawang District. I was the president of the ‘PDS Contractor Welfare Association from 2001 to 2007. I know everything about the details of the PDS and I was the leader at that time”.
Likha Maj brought an advocate named A K Singh with him along with court papers to clarify the confusing allegation of corruption, in a legal manner.
A. K. Singh who was the defense counsel for the PDS contractors from the beginning of the accusation said, “A PIL (Public Interest Litigation) was filed before the Guwahati High Court, number dated, ‘50,2004’, in 2004 regarding irregularity of food and civil supplies with regard particularly to Public Distribution System (PDS) in Arunachal Pradesh, followed by an FIR against the PDS contractor”.
“The court monitor the entire case that was going on from 2007 onwards. The Guwahati High Court had also appointed a special judge to take stock of the ongoing investigation at that time, for prevention of corruption and the case was transferred to North Lakhimpur District Court for a fair trial, in 2007”.
“The investigation and the court trial started from 2007 up to 2012. It was on September 13, 2021, when the final verdict was pronounced, and all the accused charged with criminal conspiracy with regard to the PDS in the State were acquitted”.
Toko Sheetal who is a social worker has also alleged that the firm name, M/S Sela Transport which is owned by Pema Khandu at that time had not distributed the PDS rice to the public in Tawang but sold it off to Assam.
Advocate A. K. Singh while briefing the media alongside Likha Maj said, “It is very clear from the record that the proprietor of the firm name, M/S Sela Transport, is Pema Khandu while Likha Maj was the ‘Power of Attorney’. The corruption allegation had no connection with the proprietor because his liability had been carried by the Power of Attorney which is Likha Maj.”
“I was the power of attorney and I took over this Sela Transport enterprise as Power of Attorney from 2004 onwards and I supplied the PDS rice to the entire Tawang District at that time. I was also the PDS contractor at that time. All the essential commodities reached every house in Tawang in those years. People in Tawang District were very happy. The corruption allegation against Pema Khandu is totally wrong because it was me who was dealing with the supply and the financial transaction even with the Central Government. Pema Khandu had no clue about what was going on in the whole PDS episode. To accuse directly that Pema Khandu is involved in the PDS scheme corruption is wrong and illegal,” Likha Maj firmly stated.
Toko Sheetal also said that Pema Khandu had sabotaged the legal proceeding and stopped the investigation by the court against the PDS scam.
While countering this accusation, Likha Maj said, “after the PIL was filed in 2004, the High Court had directed that the inquiry must take place and it took place and there was a 24/7 principal bench of high court monitoring on the entire inquiry. The court trial was also held at North Lakhimpur District court, in order to avoid manipulation and tampering of evidence. Pema Khandu didn’t sabotage anything and he had no knowledge about the ongoing court trial that happened during that time we were being acquitted by the trial court itself right after the inquiry had taken place. Toko Sheetal is misleading the people of Arunachal. The AAC team wants to finish the image of Chief Minster once and for all. I am calling Toko Sheetal to withdraw these allegations and tender an apology. U didn’t even just raise false allegations against the CM but u have also insulted the sanctity of the High Court through your lies”.
Starting from Itanagar on August 20, the ACC team under the leadership of Birendra Tallang and Toko Sheetal has covered Assam, West Bengal, Sikkim, and en route Uttar Pradesh today on foot.
Their daily updates are flashing in every corner of social media and news channels. The AAC which comprises around 12 members is taking this foot-march, particularly against the present State Government under the leadership of Chief Minister Pema Khandu. Raising their voices against a series of alleged corruption in almost every department of the State.
The AAC’s main target is to meet Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and demand a CBI inquiry into these alleged scams in the state.
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