The scandalous ‘cash for jobs’ scam of the APSC that rocked Assam is barely a few years away. While the issue is sub-judice, it is certainly not advisable to comment on it. One must wait for the final judgment to come from the court and in the instant case it may be years or even decades as the case may finally land up in the Supreme Court, if ordinary common sense is a sensible indicator.

However, whatever may be the final judgment, the general mass has already made its own assessment of the issue and has formed its own opinion about the case. Again, in whichever way the final judgment goes at the end of the day, the silent opinion already built up by the commoners will continue to cast a deep impression on the public psyche for long.

However, while the dust kicked up by the ‘cash for jobs’ scandal of the APSC is a long way off from settling down, another scandal on leakage question paper for Assam Police SI recruitment has fully exposed as to how money plays a major role in appointment to government jobs in the state.

APSC or no APSC, kleptocracy (rule by thieves) has apparently come to stay with a solid footing, reinforced non-stop with the passage of time, in this land ironically termed as ‘sare jahan se aaccha’. Directly or indirectly the powerful juggernaut of kleptocracy bulldozes its way, trampling all laws, rules and norms towards what it calls its ‘achievements’ , while the boisterous and deafening roar from the rooftops of Dispur blares ‘zero tolerance towards corruption’.

Joke indeed! Rude, crude, cruel, inhuman and savage joke. Should one congratulate many of the kleptocratic Colossus firmly seated in the corridors of power at Dispur for being successful in reducing the border line between politics & administration on the one hand and inhumanity & insatiable greed for wealth on the other to virtually an invisible line?

While the term ‘parivartan’ has rightly or wrongly assumed a highly rhetorical style in the political spectrum over the last one decade or thereabout, particularly in the last five years in Assam,  certainly the people have witnessed ‘parivartan’ like names of several important roads in Guwahati being changed while the Assam Secretariat has been re-christened as Janata Bhawan.

Likewise, changes are also noticeable across the entire official domain. For instance, mushroom growth of scams has turned into a galloping phenomenon, with just a handful coming to light with hard evidence. But the watch-word of the ruling dispensation is ‘zero tolerance towards corruption’.

Ordering a probe into any scam by a government officer is another administrative joke. Its primary purpose is to buy time as breathing space for the government while at the end of the day all such ‘jokes’ vanish into thin air. This indeed is a very effective way to bypass the short-lived memory of the public.

Presently, the latest scam in the appointment / recruitment sector to savagely rock Assam pertains to the written examination for recruitment of sub-inspectors (SI) in Assam Police by the State Level Police Recruitment Board (SLPRB), Assam. Within minutes of the examination being in progress, the exposure of its true character – leakage of question paper – hit the public domain.

Thanks to the social media that made the question paper leakage public with hard evidence even while the written examination was in progress. Most unfortunately, even at that point of time, some quarters in the government had the audacity to deny the same. However, left with no alternative, in the face of hard evidence in the public domain, courtesy social media, the Assam government  was finally compelled to bow to the truth and cancel the said Assam Police SI recruitment examination.

It is indeed most unfortunate for the people of the state that the master kingpin of the question paper leakage has allegedly been found to be from the Assam Police family. A retired Assam Police official of the DIG rank, PK Dutta, alleged to be the kingpin of the scandal who has reportedly amassed mountains of wealth, has since gone underground after his name hit the headlines in the media.

Again, while the BJP-led government in Assam makes loud noise about ‘zero tolerance towards corruption’, another alleged mastermind of the scam has been found to be state BJP heavyweight Diban Deka, who also had been on the run until he was nabbed by the police as per police version.

While many other alleged culprits have been rounded up by the police, the general feeling is that that a large number of black moles may be within the Assam Police itself, including quite a few high-ups. One should not oversee the fact that the said examination was conducted by the State Level Police Recruitment Board (SLPRB), Assam headed by a former IPS officer as chairman who has since resigned from the post after the question paper leakage scandal came to light.

Presently, the probe into the scandal is being carried out by the state CID which is wing of the same Assam Police. The question obviously arises if the CID can be neutral or have the guts to grill even some of their seniors of the same department if the necessity arises. Hence, on this count, the general answer is the same in the public domain.

There are also reports that PK Dutta and some other political leaders might have crossed over to Nepal. Well, nobody quite knows. Such rumours had also made the rounds earler in the case of the absconding brother of Rakesh Paul, the ‘cash for job’ tainted chairmen of the earlier APSC.

While officially investigation by the state CID will continue with the Assam Police seemingly at the centre-stage of the scandle, one wonders if at the end of the day any police high-up or political big wig would be found guilty. Again, while  suspicion runs high that some super heavyweights, official or non-official, may be deeply involved in the scandal, it may not be shocking if disappearance of person or persons may also be witnessed as days and months roll by.

In any case, litigation over the issue may last for years or decades together. It would not be surprising if finally nobody is found to be guilty because of ‘lack of evidence’. While money power and political power play a vital role, the question also surfaces if the role of the prosecution would be above board.

As of now thousands of candidates have suffered for no fault of theirs. While the Assam Police authority has made it clear that the cancelled examination will be held soon, can there be any guarantee that the same would be free from the influence of ill-gotten money or that it would not pave the way for minting more ill-gotten wealth?

One should not forget that the SI recruitment scandal that has come to light may be just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of such illegalities may be occurring in the appointment to government jobs in various departments while the same remain hidden from the public view.

Will this culture of grabbing government jobs through money power ever end in Assam? The all-powerful emerging culture of amassing wealth through illegal means, unfortunately, sends a negative signal.

Talmizur Rahman

Talmizur Rahman is a Guwahati based senior journalist and commentator. He can be reached at rahmantmz5@gmail.com