Govt funds siphoned off to Assam terror outfit: NIA
Guwahati: The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which investigates terror related crimes, has come up with startling revelations indicating that government funds worth millions of rupees have been going to the coffers of a separatist group in Assam.
The findings point to a politician-militant-bureaucrat-contractor nexus in Assam.
NIA, in its second chargesheet submitted in the court of Special Judge in Guwahati Oct 18, said elected members of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) helped the outlawed Jewel Garlosa faction of the Dima Halim Daogah (DHD-J) siphon off government funds.
"The main activity of the DHD-J after 2006 was to siphon off government funds through extortion with the help of elected members of the council, contractors and government servants, in order to finance their subversive activities," says the NIA chargesheet.
NIA was entrusted by the central government in June 2009 to investigate a criminal case after Assam police arrested two DHD-J rebels in April with Rs.10 million cash and weapons.
The two arrested rebels, Phojendra Hojai and Babul Kemprai, spilled the beans during interrogation by Assam police, saying the cash was handed over to them by the chief executive member of the NCHAC, Mohit Hojai.
Among the 16 people chargesheeted by the NIA are Mohit Hojai, a politician, R.H. Khan, a bureaucrat who was the deputy director social welfare department, Jibangshu Paul, a contractor, and Jewel Garolosa, the leader of DHD-J.
The North Cachar Hills district is in southern Assam where the writ of the DHD-J reigns supreme. The DHD-J in September last year surrendered en masse before Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
"Phojendra Hojai and other accused entered into a criminal conspiracy during November 2008 and created false and fabricated documents and defalcated huge sums of money from the funds available with the NCHAC, which was channelised through hawala (illegal channels) operators in Guwahati and Kolkata to reach arms smugglers, who in turn supplied weapons to the DHD-J to commit acts of terror," the NIA chargesheet said.
The NIA accused 16 people in the chargesheet, 14 of whom are in jail. The two arrested DHD-J militants are out on bail.
The state social welfare department Deputy Director R.H. Khan, also an accused, is in jail now for conniving with militants in swindling development funds in the same case.
Interestingly, despite media reports of state minister and legislators being involved in the scam, the NIA chargesheet has not named anybody except politicians belonging to the NCHAC.
In the first chargesheet submitted in November last year, the NIA was categorical in naming two political parties.
"Elections to the NCHAC were held in 2007 and the Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) party was elected to power in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The ASDC had the tacit support of the DHD-J," the first NIA chargesheet said.
"Investigations revealed that a portion of funds allotted to two public health engineering (PHE) departments and social welfare department were utilised by the DHD-J. Rs.130.5 million was directly siphoned away from the social welfare department and about Rs.30 million from the PHE department in 2009," the chargesheet said.
It indicated there was large scale corruption by the NCHAC under Mohit Hojai with business contracts being given to fictitious firms and payments made without the job actually being completed or not even started.
The NIA has now referred the matter to the central government for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe as there were government officials involved in criminal misconduct.
The CBI is also probing the case but said it was too premature to claim the involvement of more politicians in the multimillion rupee financial scam involving the swindling of government funds.
"The investigation is on in full swing. It`s too premature to say whether there are other politicians involved in the case," a CBI official said.
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