RAilway Bribe money Scam
Suranjit resigns, finallyMuktadir Rashid
Railways minister Suranjit Sengupta finally stood down on Monday only four and half months into office in the wake of a scandal surrounding the recovery last week of a huge amount of cash stashed in the microbus of his assistant personal secretary.
‘I am resigning for the sake of impartial investigation,’ he said at a press conference at Rail Bhaban amidst a raging scandal of alleged bribery over recruitment of several thousand employees in Bangladesh Railway.
The resignation came after Suranjit had an hour-long meeting with prime minister Sheikh Hasina at the later’s official residence Gana Bhaban on Sunday night.
Terming the incident of money recovery from his aide’s vehicle ‘a railway accident,’ the veteran politician said he has taken a historic decision in the ‘interest
of democracy’ and decided to get relieved of his responsibility.
‘I am stepping down even though I was not involved in the incident… A lot of people, civil society members and political leaders think if I stay at the helm of the ministry, the investigation could be influenced,’ Suranjit told an overcrowded press conference at the Rail Bhaban on Monday afternoon.
Referring to his meeting with the Prime Minister on Sunday night, Suranjit said he had expressed his intention to be relieved of his responsibility and the prime minister agreed to it.
A veteran parliamentarian, Suranjit joined the cabinet on November 28, 2011 for the first time in his more than a half century political career, and took the responsibility of the newly created ministry of railways on December 5, 2011.
The lid on the scandal lifted late on the night of April 9 when his assistant personal secretary Omar Faruk Talukder, along with two senior railway officials-- Bangladesh Railway general manager (east) Yusuf Ali Mridha and Railway Nirapatta Bahini divisional commandant Md Enamul Haque--carrying at least Tk 7 million in a microbus were detained after the disgruntled chauffer drove into BGB Peelkhana headquarters.
The border guards freed them along with the amount next morning after overnight grilling.
The recovery of such huge amount of money created a sensation due to the identities of the persons who were inside the
APS’s vehicle and their statements that they were going to the minister’s residence.
In the wake of nationwide criticism, APS Faruk was sacked and Yusuf and Enamul were suspended on Sunday for their alleged involvement in the ‘cash carrying’ incident was found in a primary investigation, officials said.
In a 15-minute press briefing, Suranjit, however, reiterated that he did not have any ‘direct or indirect’ link with the incident.
Suranjit said that he would not comment to the media until the probe launched by the different agencies is completed.
‘I will come back to politics by proving myself innocent through investigation,’ the senior Awami League leader said, adding, ‘My decision to resign would pave the way for a full probe into the allegations.’
Suranjit had vowed to take the ‘black cat’ out of the bag of corruption in the moth-eaten railways after assuming his office.
Suranjit is the fifth person to resign from the Cabinet since independence, according to bdnews24.com.
In the wake of corruption scandal, former state minister for energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain had to resign from the cabinet of Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance government for taking a Tk 1 crore sports utility vehicle from Niko in 2005.
Suranjit expressed hoped that the ‘truth’ will come out through investigation.
Earlier in the morning, the embarrassed politician skipped the weekly cabinet meeting held with prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair, the cabinet division officials said.
Following the incident of cash recovery, two committees — one led by Bangladesh Railways director general Md Abu Taher and the other led by the railways minister’s personal secretary Md Akhteruzzaman — were investigating the scam.
It was alleged that the money was realised in bribe from aspirants for railway jobs as Bangladesh Railway was going through a process of recruiting about 7,000 employees, according to officials.
Besides the departmental investigations, a parliamentary sub-committee, the Anti-Corruption Commission and Bangladesh Bank, are also investigating the incident.
The railways ministry secretary Fazle Kabir and the railway director general Abu Taher were present at press conference where Suranjit announced his resignation on Monday afternoon.
Since morning, newsmen were gathering at the Rail Bhaban amid speculation of Suranjit’s resignation. Suranjit entered his office at 12:50pm on a SUV flag car.
He went to his office for a few minutes and then emerged crestfallen and gloomy to face the waiting reporters at an adjacent meeting room at Rail Bhaban to announce his resignation.
He talked to the reporters briefly for about 15 minutes and afterwards met the railway officials for sometime before leaving the Rail Bhaban at 3:00pm.
Suranjit was a lawmaker in most of the parliaments during his long political career. A former leader of National Awami Party (Muzaffar), Suranjit joined Awami League in early 1990s.
In 1970 election in Pakistan, he was elected from the Sylhet as a candidate of the National Awami Party in the Provincial Assembly. In the constituent assembly of Bangladesh, he was a vocal member of the opposition bench. Later on he floated and led the Ekota Party.
He was also co-chairman of the special committee on the 15th Amendment to the Constitution. Suranjit was also the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the law, justice and parliamentary affairs ministry.
comments powered by Disqus
Date:Tuesday, 17th April, 2012