GUWAHATI: Keeping his word that he will not tolerate corruption, the Sarbananda Sonowal government in Assam is going hard at the corrupt. Over the last 18 months since the BJP-led three-party coalition formed the government by ousting the Congress, dozens of officers have been arrested on corruption charges, causing tremors in the bureaucracy.
At his swearing-in ceremony in May last year, Sonowal had committed that his government would try to rid Assam of corruption, pollution and illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. The government has not been able to deport the immigrants nor has made Assam pollution-free, but it has won many hearts by going hard on corrupt officials.
Recently, 18 officers of the state’s civil administration and police—all from the 2015 batch—were arrested for their alleged involvement in the multi-crore rupees cash-for-jobs scam in Assam Public Service Commission (APSC). Never before such a huge number of gazetted officers were arrested in a day anywhere in the country. The accused had secured the plum jobs by allegedly bribing the arrested former APSC chairman Rakesh Kumar Paul.
Earlier, three other Assam civil services officers, two members and three officials of the APSC besides a number of other government officers were arrested for graft. The rot in the APSC was exposed by a lady dentist last year. Assistant engineer Nabakanta Patir had approached her promising a job through APSC and demanded `10 lakh from her. He was arrested while accepting the bribe. Based on his confession, a PSO of an APSC member was arrested. During interrogation of the duo, it emerged that they were working as conduits in the sale of the lucrative jobs.
Cases were also registered against 18 IAS and IPS officers for their alleged involvement in various offences, including corruption. “Instead of checking corruption, the previous Congress government encouraged it. The present ruling dispensation has taken an initiative to go after the corrupt. We welcome it,” All Assam Students’ Union general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi told The Sunday Standard. “The drive should also be able to touch all sections, including the corrupt ministers and politicians”.
The Congress alleged that the government is shielding corrupt ministers, MLAs, and IAS and IPS officers.
Recently, BJP MP Ram Prasad Sarmah had alleged in a sting video that most ministers in the state demand 10 per cent commission from contractors for every work awarded.