Army orders probe into illegal farming on its land

Lucknow, April 23 (IANS) The central command of the Indian Army Tuesday ordered a probe into the reported usage of defence land for farming at Sitapur, about 90 km from here.

An army official told IANS that following reports that a bank account had been opened to deposit earnings from the land, the account had been sealed on the request of Lieutenant General Anil Chait, general officer commanding in chief, central command.

“An inquiry has been ordered. We would like to reiterate the army’s resolve to ensure probity and transparency,” an official said.

He added that Lt Gen Chait had assured that “exemplary disciplinary action will be initiated against anyone found guilty”.

A Hindi newspaper reported Monday that the harvest from farmers was being sold by army officers to the government at high prices, claiming it to be the army’s harvest.

The farm’s supervisor, Gyanendra Singh Rana, had opened a bank account (CBA 01/000076) in Corporation Bank branch at Sitapur. The account reportedly holds several lakhs of rupees.

The kingpin behind the scam is allegedly a certain Balwant Singh, who also opened an account in the same bank, in which funds deposited in the name of the military farm were transferred and later allegedly shared with army officials.

Senior army officials admitted that this illicit farming on vast acres of defence land was taking place unnoticed for several years.

“This is a matter of great concern and the intelligence wing of the central command is verifying the charges. Anyone found guilty would be dealt with strictly,” an official said.

Bank officials confirmed receiving a request by army officials to seal the account in the name of the military farm.

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