ACA anomalies under Vigilance scanner
GUWAHATI, July 22: Vigilance and Anti-corruption sleuths today grilled Assam Cricket Association (ACA) secretary Bikash Baruah for nearly two hours, reportedly in connection with fincial irregularities in the state cricketing body and the controversy surrounding the status of his government job.
The questioning of Baruah comes in the wake of three complaints lodged against him with the Vigilance and Anti-corruption department, including one by former cricketers.
Baruah was summoned for interrogation on July 17, but he failed to turn up that day.
Today he was grilled for nearly two hours from 11 am. Official sources said today's questioning was part of a prelimiry investigation. "If we find any prima facie evidence of wrong-doing, we may register a case after getting the go-ahead from the government," an official said.
After the interrogation, Baruah claimed that he was quizzed on the status of his government job. "I clarified that I took voluntary retirement in January this year. Whatever documents they wanted, I have provided," he said.
Baruah had held the desigtion of an upper division assistant in the Agriculture department's joint director's office here. He was placed under suspension in 2013 on charges of absenting himself from office for over a decade while drawing salaries.
The ACA secretary further claimed that certain people have launched a smear campaign against him with the intention of blackmailing.
Meanwhile, the Association for Cricketers of Assam today urged Baruah to reveal the mes of the former cricketers "who allegedly sought money from his association".
Addressing a press conference at the conference hall of the Assam Olympic Association, Dipak Das, the president of the Association, said, "We are against all kinds of corruption. We came to know that Baruah told the media today that some former cricketers are blackmailing him and he will reveal their mes soon. We welcome his decision and request him to reveal the mes as early as possible as we too want to know those former cricketers."
Continuing their attack against Baruah, the association said several complaints have been received against the ACA. "We have received complaints against several members of the ACA and when we inquired, we found that many of them were true. We can't buy the excuse that Bikash Baruah was ignorant of what had happened and we suspect he too is involved with these anomalies," Sajjad Zahir Hussain, a former cricketer said.
Releasing supporting documents, Sajjad further added, "You will be surprised to know that during the 2014 AGM of ACA held in Silchar, the members played ducks and drakes with funds. Tell me how can a person go from Guwahati to Silchar by car and again by flight to attend the same meeting? But it happened. This was mentioned in the document of the Assam Cricket Association. It did not stop there, the room rents of the hotels were inflated by three to four times."
"During the last six years, around Rs 70 lakh was spent in the me of purchasing cricket balls. An amount of Rs 8.5 crore was spent in the me of air fare of ACA officials during the same period. Another Rs 14 crore was spent for catering, food and accommodation. A proper enquiry can unearth the whole scam," he added. Hemanga Baruah, working president of the former cricketers body, was also present.