A case has been registered against 22 computer operators for allegedly siphoning off Rs 7.61 lakh disbursed by the Gujarat government for farmers who suffered crop losses in Bhavnagar district, police said on Thursday.
Based on a complaint by the district agriculture officer, an FIR under sections 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant) was registered with Nilambaug police station of Bhavnagar city on Wednesday, inspector M J Qureshi said.
As many as 22 village computer entrepreneurs (VCE) of six talukas of the district, who were hired on commission basis by village panchayats, had forged documents and signatures of farmers to siphon off Rs 7.61 lakh, the official said.
The state government had disbursed the funds as part of a relief package for farmers who suffered crop losses due to excessive rainfall earlier this year, he said.
"The alleged crime took place in October, and the state government has already recovered the money from the accused and deposited it into its bank account," the official said.
Village panchayats appoint VCEs to help farmers fill up online forms and these operators get commission on each application they process.
The VCEs are supposed to inform farmers about relief packages and help them submit their online applications on the state government portal's using the login id and password allotted to them, the FIR stated.
A physical verification of some applications submitted from Bhavnagar district had revealed that funds worth Rs 7.61 lakh, meant for 80 applicant farmers, were siphoned off by 22 VCEs using forged documents and signatures, it was stated.
These 22 VCEs were from Bhavnagar Rural, Talaja, Mahuva, Shihor, Umrala and Jesar taluka of the district.