On Tuesday, Swapan Kumar Ghatu, a Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and a panchayat member in West Bengal, was gheraoed by the residents of Kailashpur village and held hostage at a local school playground for illegally receiving compensation amount, originally meant for the victims of Cyclone Amphan. Swapan is reportedly a member of the Nandakumarpur gram panchayat in Mathurapur Block II of South 24 Parganas, West Bengal.
The locals had alleged that the TMC politician had siphoned off relief funds by listing his family members as the beneficiaries. His bike was also vandalised by the angry residents of Kailashpur village. On receiving information about the incident, police and the Block Development Officer (BDO) rushed to the scene.
“Hold your ears”, ordered a villager. With his hands over his ears, Swapan confessed to fraudulently receiving the money and promised to return it back to the concerned authorities soon. The BDO pacified the agitated villagers that the compensation amount will be recovered from everyone who had illegally obtained the funds, meant for those victimised by the natural disaster. Following that, the TMC leader was escorted from the mob.
Later talking to media , Swapan Kumar Ghatu conceded that there anomalies in compensation distribution. He said that there were some mistakes in preparing the list of beneficiaries, and he apologised for the same.
As per the report, TMC has assured to take action against Swapan after the investigation is concluded in the said case. The Opposition party in the State, BJP, has demanded an impartial inquiry into the matter. BJP has stated that the case was not an isolated one but just one amongst a plethora of other cases involving misappropriation of funds. On the other hand, the residents of Kailashpur village are hoping that the investigation is conducted quickly and they get their assured compensation amount in a short time.
TMC Gram Pradhan suspended
Recently, Narendranath Singh who served as a five-time pradhan of Chanditala II block in Hoogly was reportedly expelled from the Trinamool Congress on charges of corruption in the distribution of relief funds. As per a Telegraph report, Singh had submitted a list of 166 people who were to receive the assured sum of ₹20,000 for damage to houses by the cyclone. However, the Pradhan had listed his phone number against 119 names, besides including his wife as one of the beneficiaries. In his defence, Singh said that the reason behind putting his phone number against the names of beneficiaries was that they did not have mobile phones.
Affluent people received government compensation
Earlier, it was reported that the owners of intact one-story and multi-story concrete houses in Madanpur II Gram Panchayat of Kalyani block in Nadia had received money by falsely claiming that they were the victims of Cyclone Amphan. It was found that 20 houses in the 28 did not suffer even the slightest damage, as they are pucca houses.
Local resident Narayan Haldar had lodged an official complaint with the Block Development Officer (BDO) Deep Chatterjee and the sub-divisional magistrate regarding this issue. “I was shocked to see the list of beneficiaries. They are highly accomplished people. All of them have pucca houses. It is a serious case of corruption,” Haldar was quoted as saying in media reports. Shockingly, TMC leader and Local panchayat member Somnath Adhikari, who too had received compensation for his undamaged house, had justified the same by saying that “whoever gets the opportunity will take government’s money. There is nothing poor or rich about it.”
Several other people had justified getting compensation despite suffering no loss due to the cyclone, and the complainant had accused that all of them are close to the ruling party.