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Assam govt names five in FIR in Rs 30-cr advertisement ‘scam’ during Congress rule

Three advertising agencies were allegedly awarded publicity works under the information and publicity department’s ‘Vision Assam Mission Assam’ campaign through unfair means.

india Updated: Oct 22, 2017 20:21 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Assam,FIR,Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal
The special vigilance cell of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal filed an FIR on Saturday in connection with an alleged multi-crore rupee advertisement scam under the previous Congress government.(HT Photo)

Five people including the director of information and public relations department of Assam have been named as accused in a multi-crore rupee advertisement ‘scam’.

The special vigilance cell of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal filed an FIR in connection with the case involving over Rs 30 crore in the court of a special judge here on Saturday.

Besides director Ranjit Gogoi, four others from three advertising and media firms namely Rajib Bora and Anjana Bora of Brahmaputra Television Network, Dilip Kalita of Delta Publicity and Apurba Lahkar of Pradip Advertising have been named as accused in the FIR.

According to preliminary investigation, Gogoi allegedly misused his position while granting projects to these firms as part of a ‘Vision Assam, Mission Assam’ publicity campaign for the previous Congress government in the state.

The campaign during the fag end of the third term of Tarun Gogoi government was aimed at highlighting achievements of the Congress tenure through various media platforms ahead of the 2016 assembly polls.

Read more: ‘No-proof’ of corruption by ministers; BJP’s Assam unit dismisses MP’s charge

But the rates of the advertisements and their coverage were allegedly inflated in order to siphon of large part of the money allotted for the campaign.

The BJP-led coalition, which came to power last year, began preliminary probe into the 'scam' in April this year after allegations surfaced about irregularities in handing out contracts for the campaign and also in payments.

“As the government in power, the BJP has every right to conduct investigations. But they should be done in a fair manner without any political bias,” Assam Congress general secretary-cum-senior spokesperson Apurba Bhattacharya told HT.

He accused the ruling party of propaganda in the name of fighting corruption and blamed it for failing to initiate any probe when party MP Ram Prasad Sharma accused ministers in the Sonowal government, earlier this month, of taking bribes in return for doling out contracts.

Gogoi couldn’t be reached for his reaction on the allegations against him.

Officials of the vigilance cell have conducted raids at offices of the information department and the firms named in the FIR and also questioned the accused.

The case has been filed under several sections of Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act for criminal conspiracy, forgery, criminal breach of trust, cheating etc.

First Published: Oct 22, 2017 11:21 IST