The Telegraph
Thursday , September 4 , 2014
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Cops search Sahitya Sabha office

Policemen collect documents from the Sabha office in Guwahati on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, Sept. 3: City police searched the office of the Asam Sahitya Sabha here today based on an FIR filed by a lifetime member of the Sabha regarding alleged destruction of documents related to financial anomalies.

Bhabani Prasad Adhikari, a lifetime member of the Sabha and its former publication secretary, lodged a complaint with Panbazar police station yesterday, alleging that Sabha officials had set documents on fire on Monday, ahead of an examination by the state government’s finance department regarding the use of government money by the Sabha. On the basis of the complaint, Panbazar police registered a case (No. 341/14 under Sections 120 (B) 406/408/427 of the IPC).

This is the first time police have entered a Sabha office to investigate a matter in the institution’s nearly 100-year-long existence, sources said.

“I do not know what document the Sabha had burnt. But electronic media aired a visual of documents set on fire by Sabha officials. It raised a suspicion in my mind why the Sabha had to burn documents just before a probe by the state finance department,” Adhikari said. The state government had decided to examine the Sabha’s documents regarding use of annual government financial assistance following media reports that the Sabha had misused the funds.

The team was supposed to come on Monday but turned up yesterday.

Sabha secretary Chandan Sarma told The Telegraph that the police during its 20-minute search took his statements and enquired whether the Sabha’s accounts were correct. “Regarding the finance part I told them that the state government is already going through it,” he said. The team also questioned the Sabha’s accountant Ramesh Mahanta.

Sarma said they had rented the two auditoriums in the Sabha’s building to various organisations and Sabha workers burnt waste papers and disposal glasses regularly. He said the local electronic media had captured workers burning such waste.

Sabha vice-president Paramananda Rajbongshi said the Sabha gets Rs 42 lakh annually from the state government, which was not enough to pay the employees. “We have around 50 employees, including 35 permanent, in our eight offices. We need Rs 56 lakh as annual expenditure. But as the state government gives us Rs 40 lakh we are running in deficit budget,” he said.

Rajbongshi said the government had not checked the Sabha’s finance-related documents since 2002, although it should have done it annually. The process started again yesterday. “This examination will clear that we have not misutilised funds,” he added.

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