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Probe into Behala postal scam

A three-member team from the office of senior superintendent of posts (South Calcutta division) visited the Behala sub-post- office on Monday to probe the Rs 3-crore scam.

Sources said the money was collected by “postal insurance agent” Asish Datta, alias Tapan, from about 35 investors. Datta, however, reportedly died of a cardiac arrest on October 7 this year, while visiting Gomukh.

The duped investors alleged that Datta had cheated them in connivance with a section of the postal employees. They are not convinced by the announcement of Datta’s death by the team that accompanied him to Gomukh.

Some of the duped investors met state finance minister Asim Dasgupta at Writers’ Buildings on Monday and informed him of the scam. Dasgupta has assured his cooperation in the matter.

Subir Sengupta, an investor, said: “We handed over our papers to Dasgupta, who has assured us that he will take action against the culprits.” N.G. Karmakar, another investor, alleged that there were “others who were involved with Datta”.

Said Karmakar: “The postal staff must be involved in it, too. Otherwise, how could government postal stamp-pads be found from Datta’s house' The team should grill the postal staff about that.”

According to him, Datta used to cheat investors in a peculiar way. He would collect money for the monthly income scheme (MIS) but actually deposit them in a recurring deposit (RD) account, which was duly signed by the postal authorities.

Later, he would change the RD into an MIS in his own handwriting. In this way, he duped the investors.

Another investor, Purba Ghosh, who had come to the post office to meet the investigation team, said she was not convinced about Datta’s death. “We were surprised when we were informed about the death. We had even asked Datta’s brother about his body, but got no reply about it,” said Ghosh.

The postal staff in Behala was, however, on the defensive when questioned about the scam. Postmaster Golap Jha said: “Datta could have cheated people but it’s unjust to blame my staff.”

Prabhu Nath Pandey, a member of the probe committee, found it strange that the investors deposited the money with an agent without verification. “We were appalled that the investors never found it necessary to come to the post office and verify their accounts. Only when they suspected foul play did they come to check about it,” added Pandey.

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