Assam has never been regarded as a State with any swift means of mobilizing fince in a big way. It has always been regarded as one of those ‘begging bowl’ States totally incapable of creating any major corpus of funds interlly without having to beg for grants from the Centre on the 90:10 pattern. This has been the general impression among the people even though they are aware of bribes and sleaze money that go into private coffers. This has also been the image of Assam that the government has always sought to project because no one in the government would relish a serious probe into the assets of government departments and government officials. But observers not connected with the government are well aware of the extent of cash that is circulating in the State. That is why entrepreneurs in Assam have never been afraid of tapping new avenues of investment. They know that there are enough people in the State who are capable of expensive foreign trips every year, of building and owning several houses and apartments, and of acquiring very expensive cars and of changing them very frequently. At a time when most people would have expected Assam to be a barren market for expensive cars, one can see on the streets of Guwahati several BMWs, Audis and even a few Mercedes Benz cars. The very fact that Mercedes Benz decided to open a showroom in Guwahati is clear indication that corporate groups are far better informed about the quantum of bribes and sleaze money that are in circulation. Even the Central government and the Income-tax authorities have woken up to the huge hoards of black money that are there in Guwahati.
What might surprise a lot of people now is that the Income Tax department has identified more than 10,000 bank accounts in Assam that showed disproportiote or doubtful transactions during the period after the demonetization on November 8. An Income Tax source said recently: “The department has identified several bank accounts which had minimum or no transactions, but those accounts started showing deposits of huge amounts after demonetization. Also, there were several other accounts that started showing a huge amount of transactions though the holders do not have any known source of high income. Our department has identified more than 10,000 such accounts. The lowest transaction among these is Rs 25 lakh, and the lion’s share of the list are the accounts that showed transactions in crores of rupees.”
This is a statement that gives an idea of the extent of undeclared black money that was in possession of certain lawbreakers. Unfortutely, none of the lawbreakers have been treated as they deserved to be treated. On the contrary, with the help of some unscrupulous bankers, some of them were able secure new Rs 2,000 notes worth Rs 1.5 crore without any difficulty and within a few days, when most people had to stand in long queues just to draw Rs 2,000 from their accounts. The injustice of such special dispensations hurts a lot when one realizes that being able to secure Rs 1.5 crore in new currency notes would normally take a citizen over 12 years if withdrawals from bank accounts are pegged down to Rs 24,000 per week—the maximum permissible withdrawal from any account under the new rules. The Fince Ministry, the Reserve Bank of India and the Prime Minister all know about the blatant flouting of the rules newly framed for withdrawals from bank accounts that is going on. The question that everyone is asking is: How have these violators of the rules been permitted to go scot-free? Why is there not even a statement to the effect that these disturbing developments that pivot on an evil nexus between bankers and their account-holders and have turned rules stipulated for the demonetization exercise to a farce, are being taken note of, and that errant bankers will not be able to escape punishment? The tion waits for the reassuring statement that lawbreakers will be punished without fear or favour in such matters regardless of their status.