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Arrest on fraud charges

Malda, Nov. 2: A Congress-backed karmadhakshya was arrested today on charges of embezzling funds allocated for flood relief.

The arrest followed an FIR filed against eight karmadhakshyas and 11 members of the Congress-controlled Kaliachak-III panchayat samiti by the subdivisional officer of Malda Sadar, Arunima De. The complaint that was made last night at the Vaishnavnagar police station charged the accused of embezzling Rs 12 lakh.

The other accused members have fled.

The block development officer (BDO) of the area, Nitesh Dhali, has been transferred to Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar on October 29 for his alleged involvement in the incident.

According to official sources, the state government had sanctioned several crores of rupees for construction of houses after thousands of houses had collapsed in floods in July last year.

For Kaliachak block III alone, the government had sanctioned Rs 1.5 crore. The block administration claimed to have disbursed the money among some people. However, the gram panchayats were allegedly kept in the dark.

The panchayat pradhans discovered the fraud when the beneficiary list was published with names of people who had already expired. They wrote to the BDO asking for an explanation

CPM MLA of Kaliachak Biswanath Ghosh alleged that the funds had been looted by the Congress-led panchayat samiti in connivance with the BDO. Ghosh added that the district administration had not initiated any inquiry till his party had organised a movement. They had met district magistrate Chittaranjan Das on August 10 and August 17, asking him to take steps.

“Even that did not work. We gheraoed him on August 20. It was only then that De was asked to conduct an inquiry into the issue,” the CPM leader said.

Malda district president of the Congress Rubi Noor said the CPM was trying to malign the Opposition on one pretext or the other before the panchayat elections. Zilla parishad sabhadhipati Goutam Chakraborty echoed her.

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