A police officer in the room where the fire was seen on Monday morning. (Mithun Roy)
Balurghat, July 9: A fire in a co-operative bank early this morning ruined documents in an almirah, leading police and bank authorities to hint at sabotage as no other part of the building had suffered any damage.
Around 4.30, morning walkers saw flames in the single-storied building where the bank of the Trimohini Samabay Seba Samity Limited is located.
“Some local people spotted the fire this morning and informed me. An almirah in one of the rooms was damaged in the blaze and the grill of a window in the room had been broken. All papers stored in the almirah were charred. The nature of the fire suggests sabotage done with an aim to damage some documents. We have lodged a complaint with Hili police,” said Dulal Pramanik, the bank’s chairman.
A fire tender from Balurghat reached the spot around 5.30am and put out the blaze about 20km from here.
Pramanik said the management of the bank was run by the CPM from 1977 to 2010 but now it is under the Trinamul Congress.
Sources said in 2005, Dilip Sarkar, a local CPM leader who was the manager of the bank then, had been accused of financial irregularities related to the sale of fertilisers at subsidised rates.
Sarkar was sacked after an internal audit and the matter is now in court.
Pramanik said the bank management suspects that the almirah was set afire by CPM workers to damage documents related to the scam.
“Police will investigate and hopefully find out the motive that led to the fire at a particular place in the bank. We suspect that CPM-backed goons had entered the building through the broken window, as there is no other way to get inside the building. The room in which the almirah is kept was locked from outside. We suspect it was set afire to destroy all the papers related to the fertiliser scam in which there were irregularities over Rs 11 lakh,” Pramanik said.
He added that there are two other almirahs and a television set in the room in which the fire broke out, but none of the things were damaged.
The CPM denied the charge.
“There are several incidents of corruption against the present management of the bank with regard to appointments. Recently, the authorities have appointed some people without maintaining proper procedures. Some youths who do not meet the minimum age criteria have been recruited. The incident of fire has happened because some people want to divert the attention of the public away from such issues. Police investigation must reveal the facts,” said Biren Mahato, a local CPM leader.
Saumyajit Roy, the officer in charge of Hili police station, said: “Primary investigation suggests that it was a planned incident with the aim to damage some papers. We have started an investigation on the basis of the complaint lodged by the bank.”