Tripura PWD Scam: CPI-M leader Badal Choudhury sent to four-day police custody


AGARTALA | Nov 11, 2019:

A district court in Tripura on Monday sent CPI-M leader and former minister Badal Choudhury to four-day police custody in an alleged "corruption case".

According to defence lawyer Purosattam Roy Barman, West Tripura district and session court Special Judge Sabyasachi Datta Purkayastha sent Choudhary in police custody after completion of his three-day judicial custody.

"However, the court directed the investigating officer (IO) to arrange full health and security protection for the former minister.

"If the facilities for arranging full health facilities are not available in the police station, the IO can interrogate Choudhury in the central correctional centre (central jail)," Roy Barman told the media.

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He said that the court also asked the police and jail authorities to provide all the facilities and services in jail as per Choudhury's official status.

The former minister also told the court that "he has been anticipating that he might be murdered as a conspiracy was hatched against him."

An eight-time MLA and former Lok Sabha member, Choudhury was in hospital with numerous ailments since he was arrested by the crime branch on October 21 in connection with the reported "PWD scam" that was under investigation.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist leaders including former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said that the BJP government had hatched a conspiracy against CPI-M central committee member Choudhury to malign the previous Left governments to obtain political mileage.

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"No corruption had taken place during the 35-year rule (1978-1988 and 1993-2018) of Left parties in Tripura. Instead, huge development of various infrastructure and all other sectors had taken place in Tripura," Sarkar told the media.

CPI-M state secretary and the party's central committee member Gautam Das said the party would fight the "political vendetta" both legally and politically.

BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharjee strongly denied the CPI-M charges.

According to Law and Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath, the Public Works Department under the Left Front government in 2008- 9 had clubbed together 13 projects — five bridges, five buildings and three road projects — being implemented at a cost of Rs 638 crore.

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Terming it the "biggest scam in the history of Tripura", Nath said Rs 228 crore had been siphoned off.

The Tripura Police's vigilance wing on October 13 filed an FIR against Choudhury, former Principal Secretary (PWD) Y.P. Singh and ex-PWD Chief Engineer Sunil Bhowmik in connection with corruption charges in the projects.

Bhowmik was arrested on October 14. The police said it has taken steps to arrest Y.P. Singh, who also filed an anticipatory bail plea in the Tripura High Court.