KOLKATA:The CPM on Wednesday demanded a CBI probe into the multi-crore scam in Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) in North Bengal in which several people, including a bureaucrat were arrested last week by the state CID.
Siliguri Mayor and CPM leader Asoke Bhattacharaya said, “The arrest of IAS officer Godala Kiran Kumar by the CID on Friday and then not asking for his custody is to divert attention and protect some influential politicians who illegally earned several crore from this scam.”
“Though the Enforcement Directorate is probing the matter, we want a CBI probe as the CID will act according to the instructions from the State Secretariat -- Nabanna. The Chief Secretary had ensured the release of Kumar when he was earlier arrested,” he alleged.
Kumar was the CEO of SJDA from 2011-2013 when several crore worth of contracts were awarded to build three electric crematoriums. But hardly any work has started on the project yet. Funds were allegedly diverted for installing CCTVs in Siliguri town.
“Why are the other board members of the SJDA, including state minister for North Bengal Development Gautam Deb and other TMC members being spared by the CID? Kumar has been jailed to prevent him from revealing the names of TMC politicians involved in the scam,” Bhattacharya said.
In November 2013, when Kumar was the District Magistrate of Malda, the then Police Commissioner of Siliguri K Jayaraman had arrested him over his alleged involvement in the scam. The IAS lobby in West Bengal was furious and even state Chief Secretary Sanjoy Mitra criticised Jayaraman saying, “He has exceeded his limits.”
Kumar was granted bail within 23 hours and Jayaraman was removed from his post and was put on compulsory waiting list. Since there were charges against Kumar of sending crores of rupees through ‘hawala’ transactions to South India, the ED stepped in and interrogated him. The case was then taken up by the CID which arrested and chargesheeted 17 SJDA officers and contractors, all of whom are in jail now.
Kumar’s father-in-law and sister-in-law also figure in the chargesheet. Several bureaucrats and politicians of the ruling Trinamool Congress, who were members of the SJDA, are now on tenterhooks fearing that Kumar might reveal their involvement in the scam.
The CID’s chargesheet, though, does not name a single politician. Kumar, who was Joint Secretary in the state Agriculture Department, has been placed on suspension for 45 days for the time being.