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Assam Cricket Association (ACA): CRICKET OR CORRUPTION?

* Cricketing body allegedly received lakhs of payments from various sources by cash and returned the amount by cheque. And the present body also returned Rs 15 lakh by cheque
* If Sonowal Government goes ruthless against those involved in APSC’s cash for job scam which took place during previous Congress regime, how come the present ACA is shy of taking actions against the earlier committee’s wrongdoers

STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI, July 27: What is the mandate of Assam Cricket Association (ACA)? Is it to promote cricket or corruption?

At a time when the Supreme Court is monitoring implementation of recommendations of a high-powered committee headed by former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha to bring about sweeping reforms in the administration of the game of cricket in the country, the ACA has been facing a barrage of questions about its functioning. The million dollar question is whether the ACA allegedly has turned into an institution of converting black money into white in a few cases.

There has been widespread allegations and resentment among cricketers and cricket lovers in the State that the present ACA secretary Pradip Buragohain has preferred not to take actions against the wrongdoings of the earlier committee. Among such cases, major charges of graft were payment of a huge amount of cash as loans to the ACA by different individuals and returning of the cash loans by way of cheque.

When this reporter asked Buragohain about the allegation of cash transactions through ACA during a press conference held here on Friday, he denied his involvement and pointed to the earlier ACA committee for doing such transactions.

“Since I took over charge of the ACA on June 12, 2016 there has not been any single cash transaction in the association. All transactions were done through cheque. But the former ACA did some cash transactions,” Buragohain said while evading a query on whether cash transaction was wrong or not.
One Subrata Das gave a significant amount of cash to the ACA as loan earlier. On October 1, 2016, the ACA during Buragohain’s tenure repaid the amount to Das by way of cheque valuing Rs 15 lakh. When this reporter asked whether the instance was a perfect example of alleged illegal transactions in ACA or not, Buragohain said the cash was not paid to the present committee but to the former one. He said since Das gave the loan to the ACA it became obligatory for the association to repay the same.

On the question of whether the matter of repaying loan to Das through cheque was informed to the governing body of the ACA, Buragohain said since the cash was given to the association during the tenure of the earlier ACA committee it was mentioned in the audit report. He said the report was tabled during the last annual general meeting of the ACA and objections could have been raised during the same meeting.

Asked whether he will institute an inquiry by a competent and appropriate authority as such cash transactions is a major violation of the income tax laws, the ACA secretary gave a vague response and evaded from giving a clear-cut comment. He also could not give a satisfactory reply as to whether he would continue to remain mum on the earlier ACA committee’s misdeeds.
There is an allegation that Burgohain himself gave Rs 3.35 lakh as cash to the ACA as a loan. He refuted the allegation and said he gave a cheque of Rs 5.50 lakh which was deposited to the ACA’s bank account.

On the possibility of coughing up a huge amount of fine to the Income Tax department for doing such alleged illegal cash transaction, Buragohain said the ACA will make an appeal before the appellate authority in case such situation arises. The previous ACA committee should be held responsible for such transactions and the present committee has not done any cash transactions with anyone, he said.

According to Buragohain, the ACA has been filing regular IT returns for which the association has received an amount of money as refund from the Income Tax department.

It may be mentioned that the earlier ACA committee was headed by former Congress minister Gautam Roy as president and Bikash Barua as secretary. Many said the above instances of cash transactions in ACA are just the tip of an iceberg.

The present ACA secretary indirectly blamed the earlier committee for messy cash deals in the association. At a time when the present Sarbanandana Sonowal Government has become ruthless to take actions against those involved in the cash-for-job scam in the APSC took place during the previous Congress regime on the ground that the government is a continuous process, will it be enough or justified for the present ACA committee by just passing the buck of illegal cash transaction to the earlier committee? When asked, Buragohain maintained shocking silence on the pertinent question that the ACA is also a continuous process and the present committee cannot make itself aloof from the earlier committee’s misdeeds.

The ball is now in the people’s court to take a call on future of the game of cricket in Assam.