An internal investigation by the administration in the Muslim-dominated district of Murshidabad has unearthed how a local TMC leader rigged the MNREGA scheme to benefit his Bangladeshi relatives to the tune of ₹7 lacs, reported Hindustan Times.
Samsul Arfin, the accused TMC leader and Deputy Head of the Gurapashla gram panchayat in Nabagram block, had created fake job cards in the name of his relatives to collect money from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (MNREGA). Reportedly, Afrin created the fake job cards using variants of the name of the same beneficiaries and withdrew money from banks and post-offices using the ATM cards. He had transferred the fraudulently-obtained money to his relatives, 13 of whom are Bangladeshi nationals, as per the HT report.
Following a written complaint, a former Block Development Officer (Nabagram) conducted an internal inquiry and found that the Deputy Head of the Gurapashla gram panchayat and other staff members were involved in the misappropriation of funds. A First Information Report (FIR) was registered at the Nabagram police station in December 2019, after the former BDO filed a complaint against Afrin and others.
TMC leader on the run
The case was registered under Indian Penal Code Sections 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 420 (cheating) and 486 (sale of goods with counterfeit property mark), as per the incumbent BDO Pankaj Das.
Although the TMC leader moved the Calcutta High Court for anticipatory bail soon after the FIR was filed, his petition was rejected. However, Afrin was not arrested and a little progress had been made so far in the case. A police officer, while assuring of his arrest, conceded that Afrin had been on the run from the law enforcement authorities.
Political Reactions on the case
While speaking about the case, TMC spokesperson Apurba Sarkar stated, “If the Deputy Head is involved in the alleged embezzlement of government funds the administration has the right to take legal action against him. We are not going to shield him.”
Reacting strongly over misappropriation of government funds to benefit Bangladeshis, Congress President Mir Badam Ali stated, “Arfin embezzled government funds with help from some staff members. Some of the beneficiaries are even minors. The TMC leader helped Bangladeshi nationals make money out of a Central government project.”
TMC leaders siphon off compensation meant for Cyclone Amphan
It may be noted that in June this year, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee was forced to order a probe after allegations of large-scale corruption by TMC leaders in cyclone Amphan distribution had emerged. The state govt had decided to provide ₹20,000 each to 5 lakh people who had suffered damage to their houses due to the cyclone, but soon, more than 2000 complaints were filed with the CM alleging corruption.
Several TMC gram panchayat members and their relatives who own pucca houses and didn’t suffer any damage had received the relief, while genuine victims didn’t receive the same. Amazingly, some TMC leaders had actually justified getting money despite not suffering any damage, saying that the relief is meant for distribution among citizens, and that’s why they had also availed the same. Following the allegations, the state govt had ordered a probe. Later, the High Court had asked the CAG to probe the matter.