Five arrested among Congress leader Joshi in SCERT scam

Five arrested among Congress leader Joshi in SCERT scam

Assam: The Chief Minister’s Special Vigilance Cell (CMSVC) on Wednesday arrested five people, including a Congress leader, in connection with the Rs 105 crore State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) scam in Assam.
The five arrested persons have been identified as Lakhi Narayan Sonowal, Jai Chandra Lahakar, Ramizuddin Ahmed, Sarang Moore and Congress leader Rajesh Joshi.
It may be mentioned that Lakhi Narayan Sonowal is a retired Deputy Director of SCERT, while Rajesh Joshi is the son-in-law of SCERT’s suspended director-in-charge Sewali Devi Sarma. The other three arrested persons are SCERT officials.

After a marathon interrogation by the chief minister’s SVC since early hours today, the vigilance cell arrested all five persons in connection with the said scam. Later, all the five arrested persons were sent for medical examination.
Meanwhile, the CMKSVC launched a search operation at the residence of suspended IAS officer Sewali Devi Sharma. However, she is believed to have escaped to avoid her arrest.

On the other hand, Ajit Paul Singh (a contractor by profession), the other son-in-law of SCERT’s suspended director-in-charge Sewali Devi Sarma, was also found absconding from his residence.
According to reports, the Rs 105-crore SCERT scam involved spending funds in the name of offering a Diploma in Elementary Education (D.El.Ed.) course under the Open Distance Learning (ODL) system. The alleged financial irregularities took place from 2017 to 2022.
Sources reveal that SCERT’s suspended director-in-charge Sewali Devi Sarma awarded most of the contracts to her family members, including her in-laws. What is more surprising, according to sources, is that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) numbers of many of these firms were fake.
Devi allegedly transferred money from government bank accounts to the accounts of other employees and then withdrew the money from those accounts. It has also come to light that Sewali Devi Sarma had violated the guidelines and rules and started 347 centers for DL-Aid. Courses under Open Distance Learning (ODL) — more than the number of 288 centers sanctioned by the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE). Most of these centers were allegedly fake.
The inquiry, which is still ongoing, is likely to provide further insight into the nature of the abuse and the extent to which others were involved.


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