Joint up image of Meghalaya minister james K Sangma (left) and coal mafia Abdul Ahad Choudhury

While Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma is being lauded for pro-people initiatives, his elder brother, James K Sangma has started to emerge as a ‘villain’ because of alleged involvement in large scale corruption.

Ministers and senior bureaucrats of Meghalaya on Tuesday assembled at the Soil Conservation Guest House at Jowai for a cabinet meeting with a strong feeling of dissent against James K Sangma.

Senior ministers of UDP and PDF have started to register their protest against James K Sangma, who is the Home Minister of Meghalaya.

There are reports that a number of UDP and PDF MLAs have already started demanding that James K Sangma be dropped from the ministry with immediate effect.

James K Sangma, who is the eldest son of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma, also holds two other important portfolios of Power and District Council Affairs.

With the goal to ‘better connect with the people’ in the districts, Conrad K. Sangma had introduced the innovative idea of ‘Cabinet on the Move’ last year.

For the first time in the history of Meghalaya, a Cabinet meeting was held at Tura Circuit House in the month of June last year.

Riding on the success of the first ‘Cabinet on the Move’, the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government decided to have the cabinet meeting on Tuesday at Jowai.

Also read: Meghalaya ‘Cabinet on the Move’ in Jowai on Tuesday

Based on the complaint filed by one Abhijit Basumatary against SP of Khliehriat, the Meghalaya Lokayukta chairperson P K Musahary on January 10 had directed chief secretary M S Rao to facilitate a CBI inquiry on the coal scam.

Though the CBI is yet to submit the preliminary report of its investigations on coal scam to the Meghalaya Lokayukta, sources said involvement of James K Sangma has started to get exposed.

The Meghalaya Lokayukta chairperson P.K. Musahary had directed the CBI to submit the preliminary report within 15 days.

As per reports, the CBI has already started investigations in the illegal coal business in Meghalaya.

The investigating agency has already recorded statement of one Abdul Ahad Choudhury, a resident of Sutarkandi in Southern Assam’s Karimganj district.

Abdul Ahad Choudhury was arrested on July 9, 2018 at Katigorah in Cachar district for his alleged involvement in coal smuggling.

Subsequently, a diary was found from his house, which had revealed involvement of officials, MLAs and even ministers in the illegal coal business in Meghalaya.

There are reports that Abdul Ahad Choudhury told the CBI officials about the ‘protection money’ he had to pay to James K Sangma to keep his illegal coal business going from Meghalaya.

Also read: Diary reveals coal mafia paid lakhs of Rs to high profile officials

Sources confirmed that James K. Sangma, on Monday, while returning from New Delhi, had fixed a meeting with Abdul Ahad Choudhury in Guwahati.

But the meeting did not materialize as Abdul Ahad Choudhury was reportedly not keen to meet and ‘compromise’ with James K. Sangma.

Name of another person, Suraj Joshi, who is also reportedly part of the illegal coal business, has come up during the CBI’s investigations in Meghalaya’s coal scam.

Joshi hailed from Mawprem in Shillong, and according to sources, he works in close association with James K Sangma.

Meanwhile, James K Sangma had also picked up an unprovoked fight with journalists of Meghalaya.

On January 5, James K Sangma had confronted with a group of journalists, and had specifically targeted E M Jose, news editor of The Shillong Times.

The Meghalaya Editors’ and Publishers’ Association (MEPA) has demanded a public apology from home minister James K. Sangma.

Also read: Does James K Sangma have the courage to answer questions raised by Meghalaya journalists?

While the tainted Home Minister did not apologize, he also did not answer some of the serious questions raised by the journalists of Meghalaya.

The journalists asked James K Sangma to respond to the reports on his direct involvement in illegal collection in Dainadubi check gate along the Assam-Meghalaya border.

It was reported that officials of the Meghalaya Transport Department and Department of Mineral Resources have been collecting illegal tax to the tune of Rs 20,000 to 25,000 from every coal truck at Dainadubi.

The journalists have raised another serious question to James K Sangma about alleged nexus between police and ministers, politicians and the coal mafias in illegal coal transportation on the highways in Meghalaya.

Anirban Roy

Anirban Roy is Editor-in-Chief of Northeast Now. He can be reached at: editor@nenow.in