Under the Mamata Banerjee’s rule in West Bengal, Bangladeshis across the border have been receiving MNREGA payments, a Hindustan Times report stated. Further, no police action is being taken against the TMC leader who facilitated such transfer of funds illegally to Bangladeshis by forging their documents. For the past one year, the state police have not acted against one Samsul Arfin – prime accused in the entire scandal. Even while the District Block Officers have changed, no action being taken against the man caught red-handed transferring MNREGA payments to Bangladeshis shows the level of tacit support such schemes have from the powers in the state that be.
Hindustan Times reported that at least Rs 7 lakh was collected by TMC for beneficiaries of rural employment schemes under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (MNREGA) and part of the money was sent to people in Bangladesh. Jobs were allegedly created in various areas by changing the names of the same beneficiaries, which made them holders of MNREGA-related job cards. Money was then withdrawn from banks and post offices. ATM cards were also used to make withdrawals.
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Prime accused Samsul Arfin is the up-pradhan (deputy head) of the TMC-run Gurapashla gram panchayat in the Nabagram Police Station area. Samsul had, in 2019, approached the Calcutta High Court for anticipatory bail following the registry of an FIR against him, based on the complaint of former DBO. An FIR was lodged against the accused at Nabagram PS under Sections 486, 406, 409, 420, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). However, the police have not done as much as raise a finger against the accused, even as they weirdly cite him being on the run as a reasonable explanation for their inaction against him.
Nabagram block Congress President Mir Badam Ali alleged, “Arfin embezzled government funds with help from some staff members. Some of the beneficiaries are even minors. The TMC leader helped Bangladeshi nationals make money out of a Central government project. Meanwhile, the district TMC spokesperson told HT, “If the up-pradhan is involved in the alleged embezzlement of government funds the administration has the right to take legal action against him. We are not going to shield him.”
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It would be prudent for the Central Government to immediately depute central investigative agencies to West Bengal for looking into what purportedly appears to be an individual case of a vast scheme of illegal money transfers to Bangladeshis. There might probably be a vast network of individuals forwarding the benefits of central government schemes like MNREGA to Bangladeshis both within and outside the country. India’s money cannot be illegally given to Bangladeshis, and since the West Bengal police seem least interested to act on the same, the Modi government must swing into action immediately.