The Weekend Leader - Tripura PWD scam: Hunt on for ex-Minister; 9 cops suspended

Tripura PWD scam: Hunt on for ex-Minister; 9 cops suspended



The Tripura Police continued their hunt for the fourth day on Saturday to arrest former PWD Minister and top Left leader Badal Choudhury in connection with a corruption case.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government has suspended nine policemen, including an IPS officer and a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), and transferred six senior police officers after the police's failure to arrest Choudhury, an eight-term MLA since 1978, in the PWD scam.

According to Law & Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath, the PWD in 2008-09 clubbed 13 projects -- five bridges, five buildings and three road projects -- implemented at Rs 638 crore on a cost plus basis (limited up to maximum of 10 per cent of the esteemed cost). Terming it the biggest scam in the history of Tripura, Nath said, Rs 228 crore had been siphoned off.

According to local media reports, many IPS officers, led by Director General of Police (DGP) Akhil Kumar Shukla, met Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and urged him to revoke the orders.

A Home Department official said DSP (headquarters, West Tripura) Banuj Biplab Das and Officer-in-Charge of West Agartala Police Station Debaprasad Roy, three personal security guards of Choudhury and three other cops were suspended on Friday and Saturday.

Earlier, West Tripura district police chief and IPS officer Ajit Pratap Singh was suspended, while DIG Southern Range Arindam Nath transferred to the police headquarters without any assignment.

Senior IPS officers Soumitra Dhar and L. Darlong have been transferred as DIGs, Southern Range and Northern Range, respectively.

Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Raju Reang, who was probing the scam allegedly involving the former minister, a former Principal Secretary and an ex-PWD Chief Engineer, has been transferred to the police department's procurement wing.

Tripura Police Service (TPS) officer and SDPO (Sadar) Dhruba Nath has replaced Reang. Two other TPS officers -- Ajay Kumar Das and Nirdesh Deb -- have been transferred to the crime branch.

The vigilance wing on Sunday filed an FIR against Choudhury, former Principal Secretary (PWD) Y.P. Singh and ex-PWD Chief Engineer Sunil Bhowmik in connection with alleged "misdeeds" in the implementation 13 projects, worth Rs 638 crore, during the previous Left Front government in 2008-09. Bhowmik was arrested on Sunday.

Nath demanded interrogation of all the previous Left government Ministers and officials who worked under the Left Front government headed by Chief Minister Manik Sarkar.

The CPI(M) leaders said the BJP government had hatched a conspiracy against Choudhury and to malign the previous Left government and attain political mileage. CPI-M Tripura state secretary Gautam Das said the party had decided to fight the "political vendetta" both legally as well as politically.

Earlier on Wednesday, West Tripura district and sessions court Judge Sabyasachi Datta Purkayastha rejected the anticipatory bail petition of Choudhury. He later moved the Tripura High Court for anticipatory bail. The high court will hear his plea on Monday.IANS 

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