‘Cut money’ siege of duo in Birbhum

The protest in front of Das’s house on Thursday.

The protest in front of Das’s house on Thursday.Picture by Ramprasad Baidya

A Trinamul leader and a party councillor in Birbhum’s Sainthia were gheraoed on Thursday by residents demanding return of “cut money” allegedly paid to the duo for houses under the Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana.

The group of 50 demonstrating outside the house of Krishna Das claimed they had given the money two years ago and he had taken it on behalf of councillor Manas Singha. Singha had to face the angry protesters when he arrived a little later.

The residents alleged Rs 30,000-Rs 40,000 had been taken from each PMAY beneficiary. “We came to claim the cut money from the Trinamul leaders after chief minister Mamata Banerjee directed the return of such sums. However, Krishna Das left his home promising us that he would return our money within a week,” Jyotirmoy Das, one of the protesters, said.

Das said councillor Singh had also promised to return the cut money within a day.

Singha described the allegations as “false”. “It is a false allegation about having taken cut money for housing projects in my area. A group of people is provoking residents to harass Trinamul. Also, I had never assured anyone that I would give any money back,” Singha said.

Hasi Das, a beneficiary allotted a house under the scheme two years ago, said she had to take a personal loan of Rs 40,000 to pay the Trinamul leader. “After my name was enlisted (in the scheme), Krishna Das said I would get the house only if I paid him Rs 40,000. I said I had no money and would pay him later. But he said funds would be allotted only after I paid him. So, I took a personal loan and paid him,” said Hasi Das.

Sources said a beneficiary was given Rs 3.2 lakh to build a single-storey house in urban areas and it had become a “practice” for the local councillor or a party leader in every municipal ward to take Rs 30,000-Rs 40,000 as commission for every allotment.

In another incident, five persons, including a woman, were injured in a clash between two groups of Trinamul over cut money dispute in the 100 days’ job scheme at Rasulpur village in Birbhum’s Dubrajpur on Wednesday night.

Anubrata turf protest

The “cut money” agitation spilled over to Bolpur, the hometown of Trinamul Birbhum chief Anubrata Mondal, on Thursday evening when a group of 60 gheraoed a party office in the Jambuni area demanding return of such sums allegedly taken from them for allotments under the PMAY housing project.