Another heroic deed of West Bengal police has come to light. During the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, SPs in seven districts diverted and misutilised the election funds to the tune of about Rs 1.2 crore blatantly.
In 2000-2001, the Comptroller and Auditor-General had observed in his report, which was tabled in the state Assembly on July 4, 2002, that the police chiefs of Malda, North 24-Parganas, Midnapore, Birbhum, Hooghly, Darjeeling and Burdwan had overshot their spending limits from funds allocated, on account of the elections in 1999. The report said the Midnapore Superintendent of Police (SP) topped the list by diverting about Rs 26.97 lakh. He spent the election money on refrigerators, colour television sets, air-conditioners, water-coolers, cordless telephones, battery chargers, ceiling fans and voltage stabilisers as well as on buying a camera, furniture and a music system. Not only this, the SP of Malda spent the funds on buying a handycam, photocopier etc.
In North 24-Parganas, the money was spent on purchasing computers, printers and other accessories for the police chief. On July 13, 2002, a petition was filed in the High Court against the misutilisation and diversion of funds, on which the High Court asked the Election Commission to take steps against the guilty and called upon the Public Accounts Committee to look into the charges. Earlier to save its face, the Home Department had said that the items were absolutely necessary for the smooth conduct of elections.
On August 12 this year, the Committee summoned Home Secretary Amit Kiran Deb and former Malda police chief, Gaurav Dutt. While Deb made it, Dutt didn'tturn up. Last week both turned up and admitted their guilt. Now, the Committee has directed the Home Department to cough up the sum.