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Court seeks report in Laskar case

Guwahati/Tezpur, Dec. 5: Congress legislator Enamul Haque Laskar appears to be in a spot with Gauhati High Court today asking police to submit a report on the progress made in its investigation into an alleged multi-crore rupee scam in the state irrigation department.

Laskar, the prime accused in the scam, was the officer-on-special-duty in the department when central funds of Rs 270 crore were allegedly misappropriated during 2009-2010.

Today, a single-judge bench of Justice Biplab Kumar Sharma directed the senior superintendent of police (city), the superintendent of police (CID) and the officer-in-charge of Dispur police station to file a status report on the probe into the scam by December 19.

The order was passed in connection with a writ petition (number 5794/2012) filed by state BJP leader and senior advocate R.P. Sarmah on December 3, seeking a court directive for CBI inquiry into the case, which is registered at Dispur police station.

The Dispur police station case (number 1816/11) was registered based on an FIR lodged by Sarmah and state BJP general secretary Pradyut Kumar Bora in September last year, seeking an investigation into the scam.

The FIR named both Laskar and former irrigation minister Nurjamal Sarkar as the accused. It accused Sarkar of appointing Laskar as the officer-on-special-duty after the latterís retirement from service. Laskar issued 67 work orders worth Rs 270 crore by violating financial norms as few months before the last Assembly election in 2011. Just before the election, he resigned from the post and contested the polls from Sonai constituency in Cachar district and won.

The FIR also refers to a statement by present irrigation minister A.K. Dey, who had told reporters that he had sent a file to chief minister Tarun Gogoi regarding the irregular issuance of work orders by Laskar as officer-on-special-duty. In the writ petition filed in the high court, the petitioner sought a CBI inquiry stating that not much progress had been made in the investigation into the case by the police. In the same writ petition, Sarmah also sought a CBI probe into the recent suicide by a head accountant of the irrigation department, Mothur Chandra Nath.

In a 22-page suicide note, purportedly written by Nath, the head accountant blamed Laskar for allegedly driving him to end his life.

He alleged that before the last Assembly polls in 2011, he was forced by Laskar, the then officer-on-special-duty in the irrigation department, to collect huge amounts of cash from contractors working for the department to fund his election expenses. Nath alleged that the contractors were now demanding that the amount be returned but Laskar was not responding to these demands.

Nath, who committed suicide by hanging from the ceiling of his house in Tezpur on November 25, was posted in the irrigation departmentís office at Rowta in Udalguri district.

Nathís son has filed an FIR at Tezpur police station based on his fatherís suicide note. Tezpur police have registered a case and are investigating into the matter.

In Tezpur, advocate R.P. Sarmah said the high court has showcaused Sonitpur superintendent of police and officer-in-charge of Tezpur (sadar) police station on why the Nath suicide case should not be handed over to the CBI.