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CBI court convicts six in LoC scam

Guwahati, Dec. 29: The letter of credit scam in Assam that shamed two governments in the nineties flashed back into memory today with a special CBI court convicting clerk-turned-millionaire Rajendra Prasad Borah and five others in the swindlers’ list.

More convictions of high-profile people, including politicians, in 11 other cases are on the cards.

The perpetrators of the LoC scam had withdrawn crores of rupees meant for veterinary department schemes through forged letters of credit. The money was withdrawn from several treasuries across Assam.

The scam became fodder for the media as much for the money involved as for the names that were dragged into it, including former chief ministers Hiteswar Saikia and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and ministers Dilip Saikia and Nakul Das.

Former Governor Lt Gen. (retd.) S.K. Sinha, however, refused permission to the CBI to prosecute Mahanta. Saikia’s name figured in the CBI chargesheet only as a footnote because he had passed away by then.

Bora and three of his accomplices — Inamul Haque, a former subdivisional veterinary officer posted in Sonari, Mukibul Islam, a former accountant in the same office, and Tankeshwar Saikia, the then accountant of the Sivasagar treasury — were sentenced to five years in prison.

Each of them were also fined Rs 50,000. If they fail to pay the fine, the quartet will have to undergo an additional jail term of four months each.

Another of those convicted, Achyut Kumar Borpujari, was given a three-year jail term and a fine of Rs 30,000. His accomplice, Rajita Borpujari, was handed a jail term of two years and a fine of Rs 20,000, senior CBI counsel Dilip Kumar Das said.

However, there was a degree of relief for the Borpujaris, with the court today granting them bail for two months so that they can appeal to Gauhati High Court.

The CBI had filed chargesheets against nine persons in the Sonari case. Two of them — T.B. Dutta, former director of veterinary and animal husbandry, and Indira Borah, wife of the prime accused — were acquitted. Another accused, former treasury officer Dulal Chandra Konwar, is dead.

While delivering the judgment, Justice P.K. Saikia said: “The scam in question is a part of that crime which crippled the state’s economy so much that it was almost impossible for her to regain her financial health.”

“Even today she is reeling under the effects of that devastating crime which made the state of Assam poorer by an amount as whopping as Rs 400 crore,” the judge observed.

Borah’s advocate, Archana Deka Laskar, said she would apply for bail in Gauhati High Court. Known to be confident to the point of arrogance, Borah was today a shadow of the man who scripted the scam. He pleaded with the media to “leave me alone”.

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