The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dual-post row stings CPM leader

Malda, May 7: With the panchayat election barely four days away, the Malda zilla parishad sabhadhipati, a senior CPM leader, finds herself in the midst of a row over her appointment as principal of a school for the speech-and-hearing impaired.

According to documents in possession of The Telegraph, Shefali Khatun, who heads the CPM-controlled zilla parishad, the highest of the three-tier rural bodies going to polls on Sunday, has been serving as principal of Baliadanga Residential Deaf and Dumb School at Jadupur in Malda district since its inception in 2001.

District magistrate Ashok Bala said the sabhadhipati couldn’t hold another job under the law. “Being sabhadhipati is a full-time job. Keeping another job at the same time is illegal.”

Officials said sabhadhipatis were required to quit their jobs or go on a “lien”, or a long, unpaid leave. Under no circumstances, are they allowed to draw salaries as they enjoy the pay and perks of a minister of state.

District mass education extension officer Bhudeb Burman said Khatun has been receiving a monthly salary of Rs 12,580 for the last two years. All schools for the speech-and-hearing impaired in the district comes under the mass education department.

Khatun, when contacted, refused to comment. “Whatever I say, I will say after the panchayat elections, not now.”

She is not running for re-election this time. “Why are you bothering about me when I am not contesting the election,” the sabhadhipati said.

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