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Since 1st March, 1999
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Opp. lines up scam protests

Darjeeling, June 14: The Opposition here is ready to take the school scam issue to the streets.

To protest against the misappropriation of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan funds, the People's Democratic Front (PDF) ' an anti-Subash Ghisingh coalition ' has lined up a number of public meetings and rallies across the hills.

The campaigning is expected to kick off at a public meeting in Chowk Bazar on Friday.

'We will also hold meetings at Kurseong on Saturday and in Kalimpong on Monday,' said Madan Tamang, chairman, PDF.

The PDF is expected to corner Ghisingh and hold him morally responsible for the scam. The Oppositions leaders are also demanding a thorough investigation into the roles of A.R. Dewan, who was the education councillor of the DGHC when amounts to the tune of Rs 5.5 crore were withdrawn, and the then chief principal secretary and finance secretary.

'The role of the DGHC is dubious. The council gave enough time to Lakpa Rynden (the former education secretary of the DGHC), the prime accused in the case, to leave station,' alleged Tamang.

The Opposition allegation stems from the fact that despite the vigilance cell giving the authority to the chief principal secretary of the DGHC to lodge an FIR against Rynden on May 3, 2006, Anil Verma took almost 20 days to do it. The complaint was finally lodged on May 23 with the Darjeeling Sadar police station.

'The delay is very important and this could have been a move to protect Rynden from getting arrested so that the names of the other big fish involved were not revealed,' said Tamang.

Apart from rallies and public gatherings, the PDF has also decided to convene a meeting of its constituent parties on Tuesday to prepare for further agitation.

Sources maintain that the Opposition could also decide on filing a PIL at the high court to demand for a CBI inquiry and to ask for an investigation into the role of senior officer bearers when the scam took place.

The CID, which is currently handling the case, has arrested seven of the nine accused named in the FIR. While the investigating agency is looking for Rynden, Dilip Kumar Rai, the cashier, has already died.

The Opposition leaders have also raised the possibility of two sets of people being involved in the scam, putting forward the argument that equal amounts were withdrawn on separate dates at regular intervals (see chart).

'There is every possibility that two sets of people were taking money equally as there is a definite pattern in the withdrawals,' an Opposition leader said.

Besides the examples in the chart, there are six more instances in which equal amounts had been withdrawn during the scam period.

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