With over two years left for election, the political climate warms up in Meghalaya as the ruling National People’s Party (NPP) and opposition Congress digging the history as the allegations leveled from fake US’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) call centre racket to 2016 prostitution racket.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma has slammed the opposition Congress for resorting to “personal attacks” at his family as it is running out of issues related to governance.
This came as a reaction to allegations made by the Leader of Opposition (LO), Mukul Sangma when he accused the MDA government of tampering with the investigation into the fake US’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) call centre racket by transferring two police officers.
The racket was busted by the state police in 2017, following raids conducted at the IFA Enterprise Call Centre, which was operating from the premises of SS Netcom, owned by the chief minister and his family members.
“This allegation reflects the deep sense of desperation on the part of the LO. It looks like they are running out of issues related to governance and now they are resorting to personal attacks at the family level which is very unfortunate,” Conrad told reporters on Saturday.
Categorically denying that the present government has interfered with the investigation into the case, the chief minister said, “If we had tried to interfere, then the transfer would have been made immediately when we came to power, which was not the case as they (two police officers) were allowed to do the investigation for almost a year without any interruption from anybody as we believe there should be a free and fair investigation in all aspects.”
He said the case has happened in 2017 when the LO was the chief minister and the investigation started that time itself adding infact the investigation went on for almost a year, the government changes and after that, the entire investigation went on for another year.
“In due course of time whatever transfers and postings that need to be done on a normal basis was done not just for one or two individuals but for many officials throughout the system and not at all done with any kind of intention as being alleged by the LO,” he said.
Hitting back at the Congress, the chief minister however said the then Mukul Sangma-led government had transferred the investigation officer who was investigating into the prostitution racket, being run in a guest house owned by the then home minister, HDR Lyngdoh.
“That time within one month’s time the concerned investigation officer was transferred for whatever reason and if that was not the interference in the investigation, then what else? They did that during their time, which I feel was very wrong as they should have allowed the investigation to continue like in this case, the investigation went on for two years,” he said.
The chief minister further clarified that SS Netcom was a company which is into call centre business and had set up the first call centre in the North East and have service clients like Aircel, Airtel, and Idea.
Stating as the call centre business becomes more competitive, he said the SS Netcom decided not to continue with the call centre business with telecom companies because the rates were not feasible.
He said at that time investments have been made in the call centres and therefore, in order to get the return back, the company at that point decided that they should be leased out or rented out.
“With that in mind, since it was a plug and play model, more than eight-nine companies came and they rented the place and left and even as we speak, this place is being rented out to different agencies that are running the centres out there.
So the process of running has nothing to do with SS Netcom. It was simply the place and the premises which have been invested in were leased out or rented out. When the leasing out and rented out takes place, we all know that there is a due process that takes place,” he said.
According to him, there has to be a No-objection certificate (NOC) from the SP, district council, rangbah shnong and during that phase, the NOC was taken from all these agencies.
“If the LO is alleging that due diligence should have been done, well it was done by none other than the SP during that time. Therefore the process was followed and after the procedure was done, the place was rented out and the concerned individuals were running the operations from there,” he said.
“Therefore, these kinds of allegations given by the LO it really is very unfortunate and it looks like they are now trying to divert things and attention as they are not able to find issues and now they are sadly going into personal issues, which have been sorted out in the past as proper investigation has taken place,” Conrad further added.
The chief minister also stated that in fact, all individuals who are linked with this and from the companies who are running it have been arrested and actions have been taken against them.
On the alleged failure to convene the meeting of the state security committee (SCC), the chief minister however said he could not call the SCC meeting due to the ongoing COVID situation and prior to it, due to the number of situations in the state related to the CAA protest and others.
“The state security commission of course requires us to call a meeting on a regular basis but it is not that it was being done regularly as it was not that regular earlier and based on the needs and requirements in that point in time, the meetings were called. Therefore, if the situation requires, definitely we will call and when the situation improves will ensure that it would be on a regular basis,” he stated.