JUNE 27-Recovery of Rs 13.45 crore from the house of a government employee, a relative of RH Khan, an official in the social welfare department and the kingpin in the multi crore scam in the erstwhile North Cachar Hills, now rechristened as Dima Hasao, is an index of the massive corruption which has taken place in the district. The enormity of scam in the shape of siphoning of development funds of various departments between 2004 and 2008 to the tune of Rs. 1,000 crore exposes the collusion of bureaucrats and ruling party politicians for which Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Assam during whose regime all this took place “should own moral responsibility and resign”, pointed out Kabindra Purkayastha, BJP MP of Silchar while expressing his views on the unprecedented scale of corruption.
He had a dig at the Chief Minister for his varying statements when he said he had no knowledge of what happened in the hills district. Subsequently, he asked for punishment for those who were found guilty and now he was speaking of quitting politics if his involvement in the scam was in any way proved. Purkayastha said as a Chief Minister of the State he should have been monitoring the development in the district in view of people’s grievances regarding utilisation of funds and the almost zero level of development.
He also castigated Gogoi to limit the investigation by CBI to two years only instead of allowing the Central investigation agency to cover the entire period of four years as indicated by National Investigation Agency. He hoped the CBI would be free and independent of any interference from the higher ups at Dispur in order to unravel the entire gamut of corruption and to identify the politicians and officials as named by NIA.
The limited mandate given to the CBI to confine its investigation to the charges of misappropriation of Rs 36 crore related to five departments only and not in all the departments does raise question, as Purkayastha pointed out, about the sincerity and honesty of the Chief Minister. If he was so concerned about his professed transparency and fairness in administration of the State as a whole, he should ensure the probe into corruption in all the departments.
BJP MP further said that besides the 7 ministers and a good number of officers being involved in the scams, the name of the former Governor of Assam, Ajai Singh, was also making round. He urged upon the Chief Minister to bring the former Governor within the purview of the investigation. He at the same time asserted that all those found guilty including the 7 ministers should be given exemplary punishment without any political interference. He also made a request to P Chidambaram, Union Home Minister, at whose initiative the CBI took over the investigation, to keep particular tab on the probe through his own agencies for reaching the root of the largest ever corruptions in the utilisation of development funds, depriving the economically depressed and deprived tribal people of the benefits of socio-economic amelioration. He simply termed the scam as a ‘gross criminal act.’ In the meantime, 13 officials of various State government departments have been arrested by the CBI and are being subjected to interrogation. The biggest ever financial scandal in Assam has sent shivers down the spine of Congress which finds it hard to come out unscathed in view of the tightening of noose around some ministers also as is being alleged by all the Opposition parties following the exposure by National Investigation Agency.