Guwahati, Feb 25 (Calcutta Tube) The Assam government Thursday agreed to hand over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the probe into a multi-million rupees swindle of central funds by a vicious click of politicians, militants, bureaucrats, and contractors.
The central government earlier this week advised the Assam government to let the CBI investigate the scam after the National Investigating Agency (NIA) chargesheet made some startling revelations about the politician-militant-bureaucrat-contractor nexus in Assam’s North Cachar Hills district and about the millions in government funds going to the coffers of a separatist group.
‘I received the central government letter today (Thursday) and have recommended the CBI probe into the matter involving public servants in North Cachar Hills district swindling funds,’ Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told journalists.
Gogoi said this after meeting Home Minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi Thursday.
‘I would once again like to tell you that the NIA has not named any ministers nor did they investigate them as projected by the opposition parties and a section of the media,’ the chief minister said.
Assam has been witnessing a political storm over the past one week with the opposition demanding the Congress-led government’s resignation after media reports quoting the NIA said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi refused permission to the investigating agency to interrogate seven ministers allegedly involved in the scam.
The NIA, in its final chargesheet submitted in the court of the Special Judge in Guwahati Nov 17, said elected members of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) helped the outlawed Jewel Garlosa faction of the Dima Halim Daogah (DHD-J) to siphon government funds.
The NIA, the new federal agency to combat terror, in its chargesheet referred the matter to the central government for a CBI probe as there were government officials involved in criminal misconduct.
The NIA was asked by the central government in June 2009 to investigate a criminal case after Assam police arrested two DHD-J rebels in April with Rs.10 million cash and weapons.
The two arrested rebels, Phojendra Hojai and Babul Kemprai, spilled the beans during the initial interrogation by the Assam police, saying the cash was handed over to them by the chief executive member of the NCHAC, Mohit Hojai.
The North Cachar Hills district is in southern Assam where the writ of the DHD-J reigns supreme. The DHD-J in September surrendered en masse before Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
‘The main activity of the DHD-J after 2006 was to siphon off government funds through extortion with the help of elected members of the council, contractors, and government servants, in order to finance their subversive activities,’ said the NIA chargesheet, a copy of which is available with IANS.
‘Mohit Hojai and other accused public servants, along with accused contractors, committed criminal misconduct and defalcated huge sums of money from the funds available with NCHAC, which was channelised through Hawala (illegal channels) operators in Guwahati and Kolkata to reach arms smugglers, who in turn supplied weapons to the DHD-J,’ the NIA chargesheet said.
The NIA accused 14 people, of whom 10 are now in jail. The two arrested DHD-J militants and a bureaucrat are out on bail. Another DHD-J leader, Niranjan Hojai, named as an accused in the chargesheet, has not yet been arrested as he led the surrender ceremony in September and is at present at a government-run camp.
The state Social Welfare Department deputy director, R.H. Khan, also an accused, is on bail now – charged with conniving with militants in swindling development funds in the same case.
‘Investigations revealed that a portion of funds allotted to two Public Health Engineering (PHE) departments and social welfare department were utilised by the DHD-J. Rs.130.5 million was directly siphoned away from the social welfare department and about Rs.30 million from the PHE department in 2009,’ the chargesheet said.