The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Postal fraud sets off rush for savings

Daminya (Burdwan), Dec. 11: A fraud allegedly involving the postmaster of a sub-post office here has prompted a rush in five villages to withdraw deposits.

Postmaster K.K. Bhattacharya disappeared after allegedly siphoning off Rs 10 lakh from the savings of about 4,500 people and from funds for government schemes. Villagers have lodged a complaint against Bhattacharya with the Madhabdihi police.

The fraud came to light when postal authorities discovered that though pass books of the customers showed records of deposits, the office had no records of the transactions. The sham was exposed last month when teacher Shambhunath Bhattacharya applied to withdraw Rs 18,900 from his savings and submitted the pass book.

Some days later, the Mayapur post office released his pay order. When Shambhunath went to the post office, his pass book showed that the postmaster had already withdrawn the amount.

According to Shambhunath Das, Chinsurah postal division’s superintendent of posts, duped depositors would be compensated. “As soon as we came to know of the defalcation, we sent instructions to the account holders to submit their pass books and other papers so that we could determine how much money is missing,” Das said.

One of the depositors, Tapas Bhattacharya, said several villagers had deposits of over a lakh each. “The inspector of post offices has seized all our pass books for investigation,” he said.

Sources in the inspector of posts’ office at Arambagh said that depositors had till now claimed about Rs 7 lakh. The official records show deposits of a tenth of the amount.

Panchayat chief Shampa Das said more people were involved in the fraud. “It is impossible that a single person was behind the scam that took place over five years,” she said.

Burdwan superintendent of police B.N. Ramesh said the police would investigate the fraud.

Shaymal Bhattacharya of Bamunpara said his uncle had deposited Rs 55,000 as tax savings, but the post office records showed the amount as Rs 5,000. “We have the book with the official stamp on it to prove the actual amount deposited,” he said.

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