The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scam in portals of literature
- Asam Sahitya Sabha suspends top official for graft

Jorhat, Oct. 25: Loath to endanger a reputation built over 89 years, Assam’s apex literary organisation today took the unprecedented decision of suspending its general secretary Jagadish Patgiri after detecting some irregularities in financial transactions.

Pratap Chandra Baruah, assistant general secretary of the Jorhat unit of the Asam Sahitya Sabha, was appointed as the acting general secretary of the central committee.

Patgiri is the first senior office-bearer of the sabha to be sidelined for financial irregularities and indiscipline. The organisation was formed in Sivasagar in 1917 with the aim of enriching the Assamese literature and culture.

The decision to suspend Patgiri was taken during an executive committee meeting at the headquarters of the organisation.

Sabha president Kanaksen Deka told the media later that irregularities had been detected in the financial trust that was formed at the Diphu session of the literary organisation. The trust was supposed to accumulate a Rs 1-crore corpus to strengthen the organisation.

Patgiri allegedly announced that the trust had achieved its target before Rs 1 crore could be collected. He also stands accused of withdrawing money from the trust without the executive committee’s permission. Deka said a two-member inquiry committee, headed by vice-president Pachugopal Chakraborty, would probe the irregularities. The committee will submit its report within two months.

Apart from suspending Patgiri, the sabha issued a showcause notice to chief accountant Sarbananda Talukdar.

Another senior office-bearer, trust convenor Jayanta Baruah, offered to resign on moral grounds but it was not accepted.

On the allegations of indiscipline against Patgiri, the sabha president said the former general secretary superseded him and the executive committee in issuing lifetime membership certificates to certain people.

Another allegation against Patgiri is that he sold copies of seven books published by the sabha to the state government without the executive committee’s sanction. The government purchased the books for distribution among libraries across the state. One of the books is Patgiri’s autobiography.

Insiders said Patgiri also had had a misunderstanding with other executive committee members over the selection of the next president of the literary organisation.

Not invited to today’s meeting, Patgiri reached the venue, Chandra Kanta Bhawan, before the discussion began but was requested to exit the conference hall.

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