Road blocked in Raiganj over ‘Rs 3.46cr embezzlement’
Villagers blocked NH34 here for an hour on Sunday, alleging that the chief of a Trinamul-run gram panchayat had misappropriated around Rs 3.47 crore which had been allocated for various social welfare schemes.
The protests have prompted Laila Khatun, the pradhan of Bindol gram panchayat near here, to stay away from the village.
The agitators numbering around 100 from 18 villages in the panchayat disrupted traffic at Siliguri More on the highway from 11am to 12pm.
Gopal Malakar, a resident of Krishnapur village in Bindol, said Laila Khatun had siphoned around Rs 3.47 crore from the 100-day job scheme and the rural housing scheme.
“We had informed different tiers of the administration about the defalcation and sought a probe against her. But nothing has happened so far. So, we were forced to hit the streets,” said Malakar.
The protesters were wielding placards and shouting slogans against Khatun.
The villagers alleged that Mansoor Alam, the pradhan’s husband, was also involved in the corruption.
According to the protesters, names of prospective beneficiaries were enrolled under different schemes but they were not provided with the benefits. In some other cases, false names were given in official documents.
“It is unlikely that the pradhan, her husband and some panchayat members have managed to siphon off the entire money on their own. We suspect they did it in connivance with some other Trinamul leaders,” said Afrat Ali, another protester.
Senior police officers spoke to the demonstrators and assured them of necessary steps.
Khatun and her husband could not be contacted.
“We had recently transferred some employees from the panchayat. A team has been formed to probe into the allegations and it will submit a report to us in three days. Based on the report, appropriate steps will be taken,” said Arvind Kumar Mina, the district magistrate of North Dinajpur.
Purnendu Dey, a block Trinamul leader, said: “We would not comment on the issue as we need to check out whether there has been any such malpractice.”