How Development funds are diverted to Assam rebels?
A large chunk of funds meant for developmental schemes and projects find their way to militant groups in Assam. This has been confirmed by the Justice R K Manisena Singh Commission's report into misappropriation of funds in the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council, a report that also brings to light the nexus between politicians and militants.
The 49-page report has said that while payments were showed to have been made under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) without any work actually being done, false vouchers were submitted by block development officers to draw the money. In one particular instance, the PWD Mahur Road Division issued a cheque worth Rs 3.5 crore without any work being done, it said.
Job card holders of Maibang, Mahur, Diyngmukh, Sangbar and Harangaja, did not receive payment under the NREGS, the Commission's report, which was submitted to the state government on February 19, but was tabled in the state Assembly here recently, said.
Similarly, the PWD executive engineer (Road Division), Haflong, also issued a cheque for Rs 4.5 crore without any work being done, the report said. In yet another instance, signatures of 22 gaonburras (village heads) were forcibly taken showing payment of Rs 8.97 lakh to them.
While the report has mentioned that the Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) paid Rs 2 crore to the Jewel Garlosa faction of the Dima Halam Daogah DHD(J), better known as Black Widow, for helping it win the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) elections in December 2007, it has also mentioned how funds were irregularly withdrawn from the state exchequer.
In the Agriculture Department, for instance, a sum of Rs 10.50 crore was irregularly withdrawn during 2007-08 for works including clearance of 5,000 to 6,000 bighas of land, for which the Commission could detect no materials like cash book and vouchers etc from the Council office.
During 2007-08, while the state government released Rs 17.50 crore as plan fund to the Social Welfare Department, "the Council released the entire amount to R H Khan, deputy director of the department." The report said that while there were no details of the expenditure of this sum, "misappropriation of 70 per cent of the fund took place in the department in the hands of R H Khan."
Interestingly, R H Khan, Deputy Director in the District Social Welfare Department, was arrested on May 30 along with NCHAC chief executive member Mohit Hojai for allegedly providing Rs 1 crore in cash to the Black Widow militants. With the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the Black Widow activities, Khan was sent to NIA custody for a few days.
Again, in April 2008, the Council released Rs 8.50 crore to two divisions of the PWD for payment of bills, and the entire amount was paid to a contractor called Ndiat Ali, "a close business partner of Prakanta Warisa, by forging bills for the work which was never executed." Warisa, incidentally, is the president of the ASDC, a regional political party which won the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) elections in December 2007 in alliance with the BJP.
The Commission's report quoting G C Langthasa, senior Congress MLA from the district, said public funds of the Council were at the disposal of militants due to a nexus between the ASDC-BJP and Black Widow. It also referred to Langthasa's deposition in which he claimed that funds went straight to the coffer of the militants."
But the most interesting incident mentioned in the Commission's report is that of a confessional statement of one Miput Raijung, a DHD(J) or Black Widow militant, who claimed that while then chief executive member of the Council, Purnendu Langthasa and Lindu Langthasa (both of the Congress) paid Rs 50 lakh to Daniel Dimasa of the DHD(J), Depolal Hojai, a former executive member (of ASDC) brought Rs 2 crore from a contractor called RS Gandhi and gave it to Daniel.
"This statement shows that the ASDC and Congress party gave money to the DHD(J) group," the Manisena Singh Commission said in page 25 of its report.
The Commission's report said that there was no financial control over the expenditure made by the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) and that the Council has been in the habit of diverting funds advanced by the state government.
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