Jalpaiguri, Oct. 20: Allegations of funds misappropriation in panchayats have forced the district administration to lodge FIRs against the pradhans of 17 village bodies.
District panchayat officer of Jalpaiguri K.N. Diu said: “Despite repeatedly asking them to explain the expenditure, there was no response. We were forced to lodge the FIRs.”
Administrative sources said financial bungling has been alleged in the panchayats of Kharija, Berubari-1&2, Gadong-2, Salbari-2, Garalbari, Mondalghat, Birpara-1, Kumargram, Dhanirampur, Champadanga, Dabgram-2 and Odlabari villages. The district panchayat department carried out an audit in all these village bodies and hit upon evidence of huge misappropriation of funds. Following the investigation, the subdivisional officers of Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Malbazar showcaused the pradhans of these panchayats. None replied.
The administration then went ahead and lodged FIRs against the 17 pradhans, 10 of them belonging to the CPM. However, only five can be arrested. Getting wind of the administration’s intent to lodge FIRs against them, most have obtained anticipatory bail.
The pradhan of Kharija Berubari-2 fled his home after he came to know that an FIR had been lodged against him. The police raided his house but could not trace him. An officer who was part of the police team said: “We suspect he might obtain anticipatory bail, which means he cannot be arrested.”
The panchayat department and the district administration are unhappy with the police. “We had lodged FIRs against the pradhans and uppradhans of Champadanga and Odlabari before the pujas. But the police have not yet arrested them,” said a senior official. The district administration is also checking the records of 12 other panchayats.