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Cong workers protest outside SDO office

Siliguri, Dec. 5: More than 1,000 Congress workers blocked the subdivisional officer’s office here today, protesting against the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority funds misuse scam and raising demands like the transfer of the Saradha default case investigation to the CBI.

The protest was led by Darjeeling district Congress president Shankar Malakar.

“We want the SJDA scam to be unearthed. All those who are involved in financial irregularities should be arrested and produced in the court of law. That is why we hit the streets today. Similar demonstrations will continue as we have seen the manner in which a senior police official has been transferred for arresting one of the principal accused persons in the case,” said Malakar.

“We have serious doubts as to how far the investigations would progress from now on because it is evident that the state has stood by one of the accused persons who had signed cheques and made payments to unscrupulous firms,” the Congress leader said.

The Congress workers marched from Airview More, and reached the entrance to the SDO’s office on Kutchery Road around 1pm.

On reaching near the SDO’s office, they started shouting slogans against the state government and demanded proper investigation into the SJDA and Saradha scams. They also tried to enter the office premises but were stopped by police who had raised multiple barricades to prevent the protesters from proceeding to the building.

The protesters jostled with the police, shouting slogans and wielding flags. This continued for around 10 minutes after which, senior police officers asked them to leave. The protesters, however, demanded that they be arrested.

The police arranged buses and other vehicles and guided the protesters into them. All of them were taken to the Siliguri police station and released.

As Congress leaders hint at further protests, the CPM does not want to be left behind.

“During the era of the Left Front, thousands have got jobs, including these engineers at SJDA. It would be wrong to isolate them for narrow political interests and to save Trinamul leaders from arrests as many of them are involved in the scam,” said Asok Bhattacharya, the former chairman of SJDA.

“We have asked for a CBI inquiry in the SJDA case as otherwise, the entire scam cannot be unearthed. People should know where the money went from SJDA in the name of projects,” he added.

Gautam Deb, the north Bengal development minister, while speaking on the scam, said CPM and Congress are in connivance with each other.

“CPM leaders are demanding the arrest of Trinamul board members of SJDA but are silent about the board member from Congress. Congress, on the other hand, is silent about the investigations that we intend to carry out for projects executed by SJDA in 20 years of the Left Front rule,” he said.