The Telegraph
Friday , April 21 , 2017

Five evade arrest in Assam scam

Guwahati, April 20: At least five employees of the Assam social welfare department wa-nted in the alleged multicrore-rupee scam are evading arrest as the vigilance and anti-corruption branch of state police is gearing up to file a chargesheet later this month.

Sources in the branch, who refused to reveal the names of the accused, told The Telegraph that the names cropped up during interrogation of se-ven arrested persons and th-ose who have been questioned in connection with the scam.

Seven persons, including six officials of the department, have been arrested and 32 others, including three former social welfare ministers (Congress), have been questioned since the BJP-led state government ordered a probe into the alleged scam in November.

"We are planning to submit the chargesheet in the case later this month even as a few officials of the department whom we need to interrogate to corroborate some evidence are evading arrest. But our effort is on to arrest them. We hope we will be able to do so before we submit the chargesheet," director of vigilance and anti-corruption branch, Y.K. Gautam, said yesterday.

According to the allegations, Rs 2,150 crore government funds were siphoned off during implementation of three schemes - the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) and Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) - during the Congress's 15-year rule in the state.

A review meeting by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal in November revealed that a section of social welfare department officials is allegedly siphoning off Rs 150 crore a year from the government coffers for the past 15 years in the name of food for nine lakh children who actually did not exist.

Besides, 390 fake Anganwadi centres were fraudulently entered to take out public money.

Three former social welfare ministers - Akon Bora, Ajanta Neog and Gautam Roy - were summoned by the branch and questioned as the alleged corruption had taken place under their tenure. The three ministers had denied their involvement in any malpractice while the Congress termed it "vindictive attitude" of the BJP-led government.

Six officials, Goalpara district social welfare officer (DSWO) Himi Bora, Kamrup DSWO Kishori Dutta, project officer Kulen Saikia, upper division assistant Debashish Dey, lower division assistant Sajid Hussain and finance and accounts officer Rajat Subhra Bhattacharya were arrested in February.

All are in judicial custody in Guwahati central jail.

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