Massive stash exposed

The cash recovered from the engineer’s house in Kolkata on Saturday. — Photo: Sanjoy Ghosh

The cash recovered from the engineer’s house in Kolkata on Saturday. — Photo: Sanjoy Ghosh  

It took almost 21 hours and three note-counting machines to estimate the amount of cash stashed inside cushions, mattresses, sofas, ceilings, walls and even inside the boxes under the tiles of the toilet in the house of Pranab Adhikari, a sub-assistant engineer in West Bengal’s Howrah district.

Cash was also found from the refrigerator and inside the cabinet of television sets.

On Saturday afternoon, when the counting was complete, the exhausted police officers had counted currency notes of denomination Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 valuing Rs. 20 crore and seven and half lakhs.

Along with cash, gold valuing Rs. 14 lakh and post office deposits of Rs. 58 lakh were also recovered from the house of the ward inspector of the Bally Municipality.

“A trap was laid and Mr. Adhikari was caught red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs. 1 lakh from a local builder on Friday. When this happened, his wife went to the roof and made a hue and cry and he escaped in the melee,” a senior ACB officer said.

“We are trying to figure out the number of properties that Mr. Adhikari booked or purchased and perhaps we need to search those houses as well,” said an official. The engineer, who was on the run, was later located and taken into custody. His son Tanmoy Adhikari was also arrested.

A city court remanded Mr. Adhikari and his son in police custody till August 17.

Son of a factory worker, Mr. Adhikari was brought up in a low income family with four siblings. His neighbours said his brothers were employed as workers in jute mills. The parents of the engineer lived in a modest dwelling. The neighbours were surprised at the recovery.

“Mr. Adhikari did not even possess a car and maintained a humble profile,” said Amit Ghatak, who resides in the Malipanchghora area.

A local promoter A.P. Singh, who had brought the allegations against the engineer, said the government official worked “in collusion” with the authorities of the Bally Municipality.

“He was the last word in the Bally Municipality. I had brought the matter to the notice of previous chairman of the Bally Municipality but he said that promoters will have to pay the engineer for getting work done,” Mr. Singh told journalists.

He believed that Mr. Adhikari’s arrest would open “the can of worms” and many big names might come up as the engineer was not “pocketing all the money alone.”

While Trinamool Congress leaders remained tight-lipped throughout the day, Arunava Lahiri, a local CPI(M) leader and the previous chairman of the Bally Municipality, said any allegation against him was baseless.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 7:57:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/engineer-caught-redhanded-while-accepting-a-bribe-of-rs-1-lakh/article7544596.ece

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