16 ACS, APS Officials Arrested in APSC Cash for Job Scam

More arrests likely as forensic reports confirm anomalies in answer scripts; focus of investigation to shift to netting middlemen

In an unprecedented development, 16 Assam Civil Service (ACS), Assam Police Service (APS) and allied service officials were arrested by police from different parts of the State on Wednesday for their alleged involvement in the 'cash-for-job' scam that rocked the State last year.  

The arrested 16 officials are-- Dipak Khanikar (Election Officer, Sivasagar), Hemanta Saikia (DSP, Jorhat), Jayanta Kr Nath (Asst. Commandant, Bongaigaon wing, 7th APBN), Dwithum Borgayari ( CO, Dotoma) Sabbira Imran (Asst Commandant, 12th APBN, Sonitpur), Raju Saha (Labour Inspector, Bhabanipur), Debojit Bora (Election Officer, Hamren), Harshajyoti Bora (DSP, Border, Guwahati), Pallabi Sarma Chowdhury (Revenue Circle Officer, Darrang), Amarjit Das (Asst Employment Officer, Sonitpur), Anirudha Roy, (CO, Kadam), Himangshu Chowdhury (CO, Agomoni), Jatindra Prasad Baruah (Asst Commandant, 8th APBN), Kunal Das (CO, Banekuchi, Nalbari) and Dilip Kumar Kalita (Assistant Commandant, 5th APBN, Kontilla, Haflong)--all alleged to have bribed Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) officials to clear their selection in 2015.  

The arrested officials were produced before the Court of Special Judge here, which sent them to 14-day police custody.Police have also picked up another accused officer Sudipta Goswami Bhattacharjee, (Employment Officer, Hailakandi).  

The 16 arrested officials are part of the 25 officials who came under scrutiny in course of the investigation by Dibrugarh Police. Of the remaining 9 officials under scanner, 3 officials--Rajarshi Sen Deka, Sunaina Aideo and Gitali Doley--are still at large even as the police have intensified efforts to arrest them. Police sources said more arrests are likely in the coming days.

Wednesday's arrests follow obtaining of handwriting samples from the 25 ACS, APS and allied service officials by the police on 9th June this year, which were then sent to 5 forensic laboratories across the country along with answer scripts for analysis to find out whether both the handwritings matched. This was done in a bid to establish whether the answer scripts were manipulated.

Digital evidence too was collected from the suspected 25 officials and sent to the forensic laboratories for scientific examination. Sources said reports on handwriting analysis have now come, vindicating the investigators' suspicion. Analysis of the digital evidence is still being done by the forensic laboratories and their reports too are likely to come soon.

According to Director General of Police (DGP) Mukesh Sahay, the officials were arrested after tracking them on Tuesday evening. He said they have been arrested for further investigation.

While the answer scripts have been found to be duplicate, even the invigilators' signatures on these were forged

The DGP said police had doubts over the genuineness of answer scripts of 25 officials after experts expressed their suspicion. "Now, the forensic tests have validated our suspicion. While all these answer scripts have been found to be duplicate, even the invigilators' signatures on these were forged. Now, the investigation will proceed as per law and evidence," he explained.
Arrested officials being taken to court in Guwahati on Wednesday.
Image: Arrested officials being taken to court in Guwahati on Wednesday.

Sahay said the case is being supervised at the "highest level".  

On the other hand, the focus of investigation will now shift to identify key persons or middlemen involved in the entire scam, the sources confirmed. 

The cash-for-job scam in the APSC has already cost Chairman Rakesh Paul and two other members Samedur Rahman and Basanta Doley their chairs. The trio was subsequently arrested. While Paul is still incarcerated, Rahman and Doley managed to obtain bail a few weeks back.

CM welcomes development: Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday welcomed the arrests of tainted ACS/APS/allied officials and appreciated the police action. In a statement, Sonowal reiterated his government's commitment to 'zero tolerance' against corruption and asserted that the fight against this social evil will continue unabated. 

The CM also asserted that no accused in the scam can evade arrest by hiding and no one guilty would be spared, even as he directed the police to speed up operation to nab all the accused.

Meanwhile, as the case unfolds, a few politicians from both Opposition Congress and ruling BJP are likely to feel the heat in coming days. Former Congress Minister Nilomoni Sen Deka's son Rajarshi Sen Deka is among the 25 accused and is at large. Similarly, former Congress MLA and now a BJP member Sumitra Doley Patir's relative Gitali Doley also stands accused and the police is on her lookout. Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain's relative Sunaina Aideo too stands accused and has gone into hiding. 

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