Two Fair Price Shop Owners Arrested for Using Fake Software to Divert Subsidised Foodgrains

Representative image. Credit: Reuters/Babu

Surat: Two fair price shop owners were arrested by the Crime Branch in Surat for allegedly diverting subsidised grains by using a duplicate software and unauthorised biometric data of beneficiaries.

Police said that Babubhai Boriwal (53) and Sampatlal Shah (61), were arrested and sent to police custody for five days.

Explaining the modus operandi, Crime Branch inspector B.N. Dave said, “The state government had in April 2016 launched the Annapurna Yojana under the National Food Security Act-2013. Fair price shops, renamed as Pandit Deendayal grahak bhandar, were computerised so that subsidised food items reached the actual beneficiaries.”

Dave said that fair price shops were supposed to use an application called E-FPS, provided by the government, with a databank of beneficiaries fed into it.

He added, “As part of this, fair price shop owners were given a username and password to access the biometric data bank of beneficiaries to create an electronic record of beneficiaries availing subsidised grains from their shops.”

“The beneficiary had to provide his finger print, details of his ration card and UID (Aadhaar) numbers to match the data fed into the computer. This would generate a slip on the basis of which he was given subsidised ration every month,” Dave said.

The arrested duo, he said, used a duplicate software and obtained a data bank of beneficiaries from an unknown source.

“They used this data bank to create an electronic record every month to show that beneficiaries had obtained subsidised foodgrains when in reality they had not,” he said.

Dave said that investigations were underway to find out the source of the fake software as well as the biometric data.

Earlier, eight separate FIRs were lodged against as many fair price shop owners in the city following an investigation carried out by the district administration after some beneficiaries complained. The matter was then handed over to the Crime Branch.

Police said that the two had been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including section 406, 409 (criminal breach of trust), 467, 468, 471 (forgery), as well as sections of the Information Technology Act and the Essential Commodities Act.

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