FEARS that the wheat stocked in government warehouses is vulnerable to pilferage by the errant officials in charge of them are intensified by the report that the Deputy Director Food of Bahawalpur Division had stolen and sold wheat worth millions of rupees in the market. Investigations have revealed that he had also stolen thousands of sacks from the Manthar centre. His modus operandi was simple: he would force food inspectors and other staff into doing what he wanted. With this ill-gotten wealth, the Deputy Director has set up a private business of his own but as usual an inquiry has been launched, which does not give much hope of bringing him to justice. Given how mostly the corrupt officials are allowed to go scot-free, there is a perception that inquiries are meant to hush up the matter rather than punish the guilty. Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharifs oft-repeated assurance that he would have no mercy on officials involved in wheat pilferage makes it obligatory upon him to take firm action against the culprit. Secondly, it is very chilling to know the ease with which this official was able to abuse his authority and steal so much wheat in broad daylight. This leaves a big question mark on the safety of the stock stored elsewhere. Obviously, there is a dire need for a strict mechanism of checks. The preceding facts clearly explain why there is always a veritable wheat shortage in the country. Whats more, they also are grist to the mill of those who allege that food officials get their share of the pie and deal a big blow to the farmer community while executing the procurement policy. It bears pointing out that the wheat piled up in silos across the country is the sole source of ration on which the people are going to depend for the rest of the year. Letting vultures like the Bahawalpur Food Director to feast on it would have disastrous consequences for our food security.