Bhopal: The home ministry has asked the Madhya Pradesh government to revoke NIA charges in one of the 31 food adulteration cases in which the stringent charge has been imposed. Congress alleges that the Centre has intervened because the accused in this case — an Ujjain-based ghee trader — has links with RSS.
With chief minister Kamal Nath ordering a crackdown on adulteration, 89 FIRs and 31 cases have been registered under NSA since July this year. The Ujjain ghee trader, Kirti Vardhan Kelkar, was the first to be charged under NSA after food department officials raided his factory on August 2 and seized 45kg of alleged ‘spurious ghee’ and 57kg of ‘sub-standard chemicals’ used for bakery products. He has been in jail remand since then.
On October 10, the Madhya Pradesh home department received a letter from the home ministry, which referred to a “representation of detainee Kirti Vardhan Kelkar” against the order of detention passed by the Ujjain district magistrate on August 31, 2019, under NSA. “After careful consideration of the representation, the central govt is pleased to revoke charges under Section 14(1) of National Security Act, 1980,” says the letter sent to the state home secretary.
It urges the state to release Kelkar from prison “unless he is required to be kept in jail for any other case”. “He may be tried in cases registered under normal law of the land and his activities may be kept under discreet watch,” says the order, copies of which are marked to the superintendent of Indore central jail and accused Kelkar.
The Congress was surprised by the Centre’s intervention. Senior Congress spokesman Abhay Dubey alleged that the home ministry is trying to “protect Kelkar because he has RSS connections”.
“Accused are booked under NSA only for repeated and habitual offences. The state government found that Kirti Vardhan Kelkar is a habitual offender, who was caught manufacturing adulterated ghee by FDA officials in 2015 as well. A case under Section 26(2)(ii) of FDA Act 2006 and 2011 was registered against him and additional district magistrate Ujjain had convicted him on July 30, 2016,” Dubey said, adding Kelkar had appealed in high court but got no relief. In July 2019, he was again arrested after the Kamal Nath government started its campaign against food adulteration, and laboratory tests allegedly confirmed impurity in the ghee manufactured at his facility.
“We are astounded by the brazen protection coming from the home ministry for this ghee manufacturer, who is a repeated offender. How will the state government fight against adulteration if accused are going to be protected by BJP?” Dubey asked. “No matter what BJP does, the Kamal Nath government’s mission against food adulteration will continue and the guilty will be booked,” he added.
Nath govt’s next move: Life term for adulteration
Bhopal: The Kamal Nath government will bring about stricter laws with provisions of life imprisonment for adulteration of food, milk and dairy products, Congress media department vice-president Abhay Dubey said on Wednesday. The proposal will be presented before the council of ministers after Diwali, he said.
The Congress also contested senior party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia’s allegation that those nabbed for food adulteration are being released. “I have heard of many cases in which those involved in adulteration are nabbed and later released. From now on, those involved in adulteration should not be released without the knowledge of the minister,” Scindia said at a public event in Gwalior on Monday.
A day later, the state Congress pointed out that 89 FIRs and 31 cases have been registered under NSA for food adulteration and no adulterator will be spared. “As many as 89 accused are in jail and 31 cases have been registered under NSA. This shows the determination of the Kamal Nath government to end food adulteration,” state PCC media department chairperson Shobha Oza said. “Jyotiraditya Scindia was only expressing his concern that no adulterator should be spared,” Oza explained.