The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Unseated but in love with chairs & beds

Behrampore, July 8: The former chief of the Murshidabad zilla parishad left her official residence here for her village last week. But Siddika Begum did not go alone.

Furniture, refrigerator, computer, television set, tubs, towels, tumblers, bedspreads… you name it. Everything that the government had provided her for five years went to Nashipur village.

The CPM, which wrested the parishad from the Congress this year, has lodged a complaint with the district magistrate.

The new zilla parishad chief may not want to step into a bungalow that has almost been stripped bare.

Purnima Das, who was sworn in yesterday, said she would put up at the CPM office in Behrampore town for the time being.

Officials said what Siddika had done had no parallel. “A zilla parishad chief enjoys a minister of state rank and can use a beacon on the official car,” said one of them.

District magistrate Subir Bhadra has ordered a probe.

However, there may not be much to inquire into. Siddika admitted taking home everything that she had been given as a sabhadhipati. “Ki korbo bhai, jinish gulor opor maya porey gachhey (What can I do brother, I have got used to these things),” she said from Nashipur, about 40km from the district headquarters.

She has heard that a probe is about to begin and is surprised. “Then an inquiry should also be held against the earlier sabhadhipati because when I first stepped into the bungalow, it was bare.”

Siddika’s predecessor, the CPM’s Sachchidananda Kandari, said the bungalow in the zilla parishad complex was built in 2001 and he had never lived there.

“It was built during my tenure (1998-2003) but I never moved in. We had furnished the bungalow spending over Rs 3 lakh,” he added.

A parishad clerk had apparently seen the household stu-ff being smuggled out of the bungalow. “Last Thursday, I was working in the office when I saw a truck stop in front of the house. Half-a-dozen labourers took out the furniture and other goods over two hours,” said Sudeb Dey.

Siddika’s husband Abdus Salam had apparently supervised the packing-and-moving operation.

“I am not the only witness to the incident. There were many others and we were all laughing,” said Sudeb, 30.

Almost lost for words, district magistrate Bhadra said: “It is very unfortunate. No one can take away government property like this.”

The new sabhadhipati, who is from Azimgunj, about 25km from Behrampore, will take charge tomorrow.

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