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Anti-graft agency left weakened, hobbled

Transparency in Assam?

BY OUR STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI, Feb 17: The Directorate of Vigilance & Anti-Corruption under Assam Police, which has been fighting a battle against corrupt officials and has also successfully ‘trapped’ several officials so far by exposing them, is facing many hurdles to its functioning.

First and foremost, frequent transfer of its top officials has hampered its investigations into official corruption. In an interl report by the Vigilance & Anti-Corruption Directorate, several problems faced by the investigating agency have come to the fore.

“There is no fixed tenure for officers posted in the Directorate and transfers of top officials are frequent, which has adversely affected its functioning,” stated the report.

The recent transfer of Mukul Saikia, SP (Law), Vigilance & Anti-Corruption, as SP (Border I) has triggered suspicion among certain quarters in the State. Saikia, who earlier investigated several high profile corruption cases, was recently probing the suspected massive scam in Social Welfare department. Saikia even told media persons after his transfer that the investigation into the scam in Social Welfare department might have ‘ruffled someone’s feathers’.

The report further said: “There is also lack of motivation and investigation experience among enquiry officers due to lack of proper training programmes. Besides, the Directorate is also facing shortage of technical experts, accounts officers and law officers.”

“Presently, the Directorate has a sanctioned strength of 88 personnel, but is making do with 75 personnel. It has 102 cases under investigation and 236 regular enquiries in progress. However, it lacks adequate infrastructure, manpower, transport and funds for carrying out its task effectively,” said the report, adding, “In order to make the Directorate of Vigilance & Anti-Corruption more effective and increase its reach, zol offices are needed to be set up in at least five districts such as Dibrugarh, Sonitpur, gaon, Bongaigaon and Silchar with adequate manpower and infrastructure.”

Besides conducting enquiries into cases against corrupt officials, the Vigilance & Anti-Corruption Directorate has the power to organize traps to apprehend corrupt officials. “18 corrupt officials have been apprehended in 15 cases since January 2016. A total of 28 corrupt public servants have been arrested and forwarded to judicial custody in connection with the trap cases so far, and recovered cash amounting to Rs 2,82,87,830 and gold worth Rs 31,75,339,” added the interl report.