GUWAHATI, Jan 21 - More than half a dozen officials of the State Transport department are under scrutiny as skeletons continue to tumble out in the coal smuggling racket.
Police have arrested at least eight brokers so far and seized some 18 trucks carrying illegal coal over the last ten days.
Sources said during interrogation, the arrested brokers have named several Transport officials who are involved in the racket and made shady deals to allow safe passage to overloaded trucks and vehicles without proper permits.
The brokers have also named some journalists during questioning.
Police are likely to summon the Transport officials and journalists for questioning. One enforcement inspector is learnt to have been evading police after being named by arrested broker Kuldeep Singh.
�How is it possible that so many trucks pass through the highway without the knowledge of the enforcement inspectors and other Transport officials who are assigned the duty to monitor and check them? Now after police have been given a free hand to crack down on the menace, the illegalities have come to light,� a police official said.
The police is learnt to have compiled a list of over 20 such wanted persons in the racket.
What has shocked many is that the Transport department has not initiated any action against its erring officials, neither has there been any rejig in the department despite the racket proving to be a blot in Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal�s corruption-free slogan.
�Why will there be any action when the racket has political patronage? The arrest of the brokers is just to mislead the public. The main people involved will never be caught. I have been demanding an independent inquiry. The government says it has closed down the check gates, but extortion has continued in many other ways. Local BJP leaders are involved in these syndicates, so there will be no action,� Opposition leader Debabrata Saikia felt.
A senior Transport official, when contacted, said a committee has been formed at the commissionerate level to supervise the enforcement work.
�The committee is being headed by an assistant commissioner and comprises the RTA secretary, two MVIs and two superintendents. They will visit the Khanapara check point and DTO office daily to supervise the enforcement work and suggest measures to stop the menace. The work of the committee will be reviewed on a regular basis,� the official said.
Asked about the allegations against the Transport personnel, the official did not give a clean chit to its field staff and said the DTO (Kamrup Metro) has been directed several times to control the menace by deploying enforcement teams on shift basis.
Meanwhile, all DCs and SPs have been directed to form special squads comprising personnel from Transport, police and a magistrate to check overloading of vehicles.