Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee directed senior officers of her office to take stringent and immediate steps if any complaints of extortion or “syndicate raj” are received.
Banerjee gave the direction on Monday soon after entering Nabanna around 11.30 am. She had been to Darjeeling and subsequently to Delhi last week. It may be recalled that the Bidhannagar Municipal corporation councillor Anindya Chatterjee was arrested and some more allegations of officials demanding extortion money had cropped up when Banerjee was in Darjeeling.
Sources said that the Chief Minister took up the issue immediately after resuming office in Nabanna. It is learnt that senior officials of Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) were asked to take necessary action with priority if any person writes to the CMO alleging that he or she was demanded extortion money for undertaking construction or repairing work of their houses.
The complaints should be treated with equal priority, whether they are from middle-class homeowners or real estate developers.
The Chief Minister will have to be informed immediately and then the concerned officer will be contacted to help out the complainant and to take action against the accused.
Stringent steps will also be taken against members of syndicates if unnecessary pressure is put on a person or real estate developers to buy building materials. According to CMO officials, the CM wants to send the message that ‘unnecessary harassment of common people will not be tolerated.’ The reason behind this direction to the CMO is that many people approach the officials, in addition to lodging complaint with the local police, expecting prompt and appropriate action.
Chatterjee was arrested after the Chief Minster had intervened when she was told about the issue by the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
After coming to power for the second time, Banerjee had taken up the issue with a strong commitment to “bring an end to the syndicate menace”. She had warned members in all ranks of her party not to get involved in any illegal activities while speaking in programmes organised by Trinamool Congress. She iterated that stringent steps will be taken against such people.
The message became clearer with the arrest of the councillor, a member of her own party, from Bidhannagar.
Interestingly, with the arrest of Chatterjee, more people started lodging similar complaints and raising allegations of demand for extortion money to construct buildings. Sources said that the CMO has passed the message to senior administrative and police officers in all districts.
According to senior officials in Nabanna, Monday’s direction to the CMO will once again give a boost to the morale of the police to take action against extortionists and allow legal construction of buildings.