Guwahati, Sept. 7: “Blacklisted” — the word stung, especially for an organisation that has built a reputation for over 90 years.
But Asam Sahitya Sabha has its ammunition loaded.
Within days of Union minister of state for human resource development D. Purandareshwari naming the sabha in list of the “blacklisted” organisations which have failed to produce utilisation certificates for funds in Parliament, the apex literary body of Assam has decided to file a defamation suit against the ministry.
“This kind of baseless and irresponsible remark made against the Asam Sahitya Sabha has not only maligned the image of the prestigious organisation but is also an insult to the Assamese people,” sabha president Kanak Sen Deka told reporters here today.
It turns out that the utilisation certificates that the human resource ministry found missing are for funds sanctioned to the sabha more than 15 years back.
“The incident highlights the department’s inefficiency. It is very irresponsible on the part of the ministry to make such remarks on the basis of funds which were released so long ago,” Deka said.
If the ministry had any doubt regarding the utilisation of funds it should have instituted a proper inquiry at an appropriate time, he added. “Why make some irresponsible remarks without any inquiry'”
If the department had sought details regarding fund utilisation, the sabha would have definitely provided them, Deka said.
The sabha has appealed to the state government and MPs from Assam to stand by its demand for an official apology.
The department concerned under the ministry has agreed to lift the “blacklist” tag if necessary papers are provided, Deka said.
“But a mere lifting the tag will not do — the remark is a serious blow to the people of Assam. Only an official apology will help the sabha regain its prestige.”
Deka said neither had the ministry sanctioned any funds for the sabha nor had the sabha asked for any during his tenure as the president.
Following a probe, it was found that the ministry had sanctioned Rs 1.19 lakh in three phases for development of Hindi language, for which the ministry claimed, it had not received any utilisation certificate.
But the fund was, however, utilised properly.