The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Puja panel showcause

Raiganj, Oct. 17: More than a week after members of a puja committee packed with government officers assaulted two businessmen, the North Dinajpur district administration has showcaused a government employee for being on the committee “without permission”.

Raiganj block development officer Pratip Kumar Mondal served the notice on Binoy Das, a treasury department employee, last evening on the order of district magistrate Ariz Aftab, whom the puja committee had cited as its president. Das was the secretary of the Karnojora housing estate puja committee.

Almost all officers, including the district magistrate, have their bungalows or quarters on the sprawling estate where the puja was organised.

Like most officers on the puja committee, Aftab denied any involvement with the puja, saying he had been named as president “without his consent”.

Das vowed to “give a fitting reply” to the showcause notice, saying all officers, including the district magistrate, had been put on the committee after “we had received their consent verbally”.

Badal Sutradhar, owner of a furniture shop, and his brother Sushil were thrashed by members of the committee on the night of October 8 after they refused to pay Rs 2,001 as subscription. They were hospitalised for two days with deep cuts and gashes.

Though the Karnojora Byabsayee Samiti named five members of the committee as “attackers” in a police complaint filed the next day, only one of them, Sandip Majumder, was arrested. Police said the others could not be traced but the businessmen alleged that they were let off for being sons of government officials.

The district magistrate said: “He (Das) was directly involved in the puja without permission. We have asked him to clarify how the names of government officers figured in the puja committee without their consent.”

Das was asked to reply to the notice by Saturday. “We will not spare anybody. We will not tolerate any intimidation in the name of puja,” Aftab said.

Besides the district magistrate, all the government officers named in the committee including the district information officer, denied their involvement after the assault.

The general secretary of the West Dinajpur Chamber of Commerce dismissed the showcause against the “low-ranking employee” as “an eyewash”.

“If Das is showcaused for being secretary of the committee, what about the district magistrate who was named as president'” asked the president of the chamber.

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