A rice importer in Mauritius got a shocker when export quality rice bags imported from Karnal in Haryana were found to contain 24,000kg of sand. The entire conspiracy was scripted by a driver based in Loni, Ghaziabad, who swapped the 120 rice bags midway while transporting the consignment from Karnal to the inland container depot (ICD) in Loni.
According to the police, a Karnal-based rice mill dispatched the consignment to ICD in Loni on March 6. The truck reached the Loni depot around 5.30am on March 7. The rice consignment was later dispatched through rail to a port in Gujarat from where it was shipped to Mauritius on April 11.
“The consignment was opened in Mauritius on April 12. The importer found that the first two rows of bags contained rice while the remaining rows of bags were filled with sand. The importer sent a communication to the rice mill in Karnal and they sent us an objection along with a penalty of Rs 8 lakh. We traced the swap after the rice mill informed us,” said Nitin Gupta, the transporter.
According to the police, Gupta had hired the erring container truck and the driver from a third party as his trucks were not available on March 6.
After the goof-up, when Gupta checked the container depot records, he found that the factory seal was different and the weight of the consignment unloaded at the Loni depot was different from what was dispatched from Karnal. He also said generally, the trucks reach inland container depot in Loni by 1am from Karnal, but that particular truck reached the depot around 5.30am on March 7.
Suspecting a fraud, Gupta lodged an FIR at the Loni police station for criminal breach of trust and also for cheating against the truck driver.
On Thursday, the Loni police arrested truck driver Firoz Ahmad and Majid, his accomplice.
“They told us that they had unloaded the consignment of rice at Mandola and received a sum of Rs 56,000 in return. Truck driver Firoz received Rs 16,000. They both were arrested. We are also on the lookout for the people who hatched the conspiracy and usurped the export quality rice. More arrests will follow after the accused are questioned in detail,” said Srikant Prajapati, circle officer (Loni).
The police said they have also received a different complaint earlier about a similar goof-up and will further investigate that matter as well.