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Sunday, 11 December 2011

Bapu’s labour union cheats jobless mill workers of crores

AHMEDABAD: At a time when Gandhian Anna Hazare is set to begin a fast against corruption, a Gandhian institution in Ahmedabad has been accused of fraud.

Mahatma Gandhi started Majoor Mahajan Sangh in 1920 to fight for the rights of textile mill workers and even undertook a fast to convince mill owners to give the workers higher pay.

Today, the sangh is being accused of subverting Gandhian values. Police in Ahmedabad has accused leaders of the labour union of siphoning off crores of rupees meant to be compensation for jobless workers of 29 closed textile mills. The FIR, filed on Saturday, has named Raman Patel, president of the sangh, its secretary Manhar Shukla, chartered accountants Amal Datt & Associates, private lender Mohanlal Shah, Bapunagar Mahila Co-operative Bank and the HC appointed official liquidator as accused.

According to the FIR, savings accounts were opened in both cooperative and nationalized banks in the name of people who had never worked in a textile mill and the money withdrawn.

The scam came to light when Mansukh Parmar, who retired from Calico Mills in 1988, filed a complaint of fraud and embezzlement with the Navrangpura police. He told the police that when textile mills closed down in 1999, the Central government had come out with a scheme of giving the workers 18 months salary as compensation.

The sangh was asked to identify beneficiaries of the scheme and Parmar was on one of the committees identifying workers. Parmar alleges Calico Mills had 4,949 workers who were entitled for compensation. However, the sangh prepared a list of 5,757 names, 808 workers more than the actual number. He alleged that he was thrown out of the committee because he objected to this anomaly.

The sangh passed on the inflated list to the liquidator who issued cheques without verifying the names. Parmar had said in his complaint that instead of handing over cheques individually to beneficiaries, the liquidator gave all the cheques to the sangh officials.

The sangh officials have been accused of selling the cheques to a private lender at a discount. Police officials have found that at least 284 cheques have been issued in the names of people who had never worked in a textile mill. Yet, savings accounts were opened in their names in the Bapunagar bank and Rs 1.63 crore was withdrawn.

Times View 

This scam brings shame to the name of Mahatma Gandhi, who set up the Majoor Mahajan Sangh in 1920. It is indeed deplorable that a Gandhian institution is being accused of embezzlement of funds meant for former mill workers. This is corruption at its worst at a time when today's Gandhi, Anna Hazare, is leading a fight against this scourge.


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