A member of a BJP-backed state government employees’ union has been arrested in a disproportionate assets case, drawing heavy criticism from the Opposition party.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested Paschim Banga Karmachari Parishad member Sanjib Pal on Friday night at the New Secretariat building in Kolkata. He was produced in Bankshall court here on Saturday. The court remanded him to police custody for four days.
Pal was a former core-committee member of the Trinamool Congress-backed government employees’ association — West Bengal State Government Employees’ Federation — and was deputed to the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) till 2019.
Following the BJP’s victories last year in 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats, he turned against the ruling party and was expelled from the federation. After that, Pal joined the BJP-backed organisation. He was transferred out of the CMO to the transport department, and posted first in Haldia and then Alipurduar. In July 2019, the corruption case against him was filed with the ACB.
In August, the bureau interrogated Pal, prompting him to complain to the Secretary of the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms that he was being mentally harassed. He urged the official to safeguard him from a “conspiracy”.
Responding to Pal’s arrest, Karmachari Parishad’s convener Debashish Shil said, “This is nothing but an example of the government’s vindictive attitude. Sanjib Pal is our normal member. He previously was with the TMC. Those who were with the TMC, including me, are now with the BJP. The government is trying to harass them with court cases. But, then we are also saying that Sanjib Pal has to prove himself innocent on his own.”
The leaders of the Trinamool-backed federation declined to officially comment on the arrest. However, a senior leader of the outfit said, “Everybody knows that when Pal was in the CMO there were many allegations that he used his power for vested interests and took bribes in many cases. Before Mamata Banerjee came to power, Sanjib Pal was also booked for creating an illegal chit fund using the money of government employees. He has surrendered to court in that case, and received bail.”
A Forward Bloc-affiliated government employees’ association’s leader Sanket Chakraborty said, “All government employees are not corrupt. So, if there is an allegation against Paal, he should prove himself innocent, and investigation should also be neutral.”
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