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18 Dec 2017

'Bribe' nets audit officer

Bimal Kumar Pathak (left) being escorted by a member of the
anti-corruption branch after his arrest. Pic: Kousik Sen
KOUSIK SEN, TT, 17  December 2017, Raiganj: An audit officer posted at the Accountants General was arrested by the directorate of anti-Corruption branch on Saturday evening for allegedly demanding bribe from some block development officers of North Dinajpur and accepting cash from a cashier.

Administrative sources said Bimal Kumar Pathak, the audit officer, was on a visit to the district to check out the implementation of Indira Awas Yojana in the blocks.

"For the past one week, he had been visiting the blocks and checking accounts of the scheme that is being implemented at the block level. Pathak was demanding Rs 50,000 from the BDOs or other senior employees in the block offices against a favourable report from his side regarding the implementation of the scheme and use of funds allocated for it," said a senior official.

As the BDOs declined, Pathak allegedly threatened them that he would raise false charges of corruption against them.

The BDOs informed the district magistrate, Ayesha Rani A, who in turn communicated with officials of the directorate of anti-corruption branch in Calcutta.

On Saturday, a team from the branch arrived here, met the DM and charted out a plan to arrest Pathak red-handed.

"The audit officer was staying at the tourist lodge close to Kulik Bird Sanctuary, on the outskirts of the Raiganj town. The team from Calcutta boarded the accommodation of the state forest department that is near the tourist lodge and on the other side of NH34," said an official.

As per the plan, the BDO of Chakulia called up the audit officer on Saturday afternoon and informed him that he would pay Rs 50,000. But in the first phase, he would send his cashier with Rs 20,000 on Saturday evening.

The cashier was called to Raiganj.

"He was virtually 'trained' by members of the anti-corruption team from Calcutta as to how he should hand over the money to him. They prepared an envelope into which the notes were put. They then rubbed the phenolphthalein powder on the envelope," said a source.

Phenolphthalein, colourless in dry form, turns pink if dissolved in water.

Accordingly, the cashier went to the tourist lodge, met Pathak and handed over the envelope to him.

"The cashier insisted that Pathak should count the notes. He then came out and called up the team members. They were quick to react and entered Pathak's room and caught him red-handed," the source said.

"His hands were dipped in water and water was sprinkled on the envelope and notes. As all turned pink, it was proved that he has accepted the money sent to him," said an official.

Pathak was arrested and taken out of the tourist lodge. Later at night, the team members left for Calcutta.

Sources said he would be produced in a court in the capital on Sunday.

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