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June 13, 2018

Transfer threat: food controller held on subordinate’s complaint

Lahore

June 13, 2018

LAHORE: Like other bright summer days, last Tuesday was full of activity for staff of Food Department in District Sahiwal as they were busy taking stock of purchased grain during concluding wheat procurement drive. However, Rana Khalid Akram, Assistant Food Controller (AFC), was an exception as he was worried about alleged coercive attitude of his boss over persistent demand of bribe, one of his colleagues said.

The Rs 0.4 million means a lot for him and he finds it difficult for arranging the amount for fulfilling the desire of his superior officer. Later, in the evening of June 05, 2018, an unprecedented event involving arrest of District Food Controller by Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) over complaint lodged by him baffled many colleagues and other officials of provincial Food Department.

As per FIR lodged with ACE, Akram approached the local police station for submitting an application against his boss, Faisal Sharif DFC, Sahiwal alleging that he is demanding Rs 0.4 million bribe while threatening to transfer him. In a pre-mediated move, AFC agreed to pay the bribe to DFC at a dinner at a local restaurant same evening.

As per plan, the raiding party of ACE caught Faisal Sharif, DFC red-handed receiving Rs 0.4 million kickback from Rana Khalid Ikram, AFC, according to FIR lodged under section 161 PPC and 5(2) 47 of PCA. Anti-Corruption officials recovered Rs 0.12 million additionally from him and later put handcuffed officer behind bar. Since then, he has been locked in Central Jail Sahiwal.

Reliable sources claimed that DFC was allegedly claiming his share from the amount minted from farmers in the shape of additional wheat. Actually it was wrangling over distribution of money minted from farmers in the shape of additional wheat. Sources claimed that such amount was allegedly distributed among all official chain from bottom to top

District Food Controllers work under the administrative command of Food Directorate located in the provincial capital. Faisal Sharif, suspect in the case, is the same person who faced successive transfers and posting in short span of a few weeks before start of procurement campaign this year.

This incident should be seen as a tip of an iceberg, said a retired Food Department official. The corruption has spread tentacles in provincial Food Department despite much-touted corruption free environment in the province, he added.

The arrest of a senior district level Food Controller on complaint of his subordinate is also a testimony of the fact that despite judicial activism and super-active NAB, corruption is alive with all its meanness and progressing well in government quarters without any hindrance, he observed.

The official recalled that dishonesty or fraudulent conduct by Food officials, typically involving bribery is not a new thing. However, such heinous crimes seldom came to light.

He stressed the need for making the department transparent in order to leave lesser room for the corrupt practices. When contacted, Shoukat Ali, Provincial Secretary Food and Asif Bilal Lodhi, Director Food did not comment over allegation about prevalence of corruption in the country and other allied charges.

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