Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Friday voiced grave concern over the naked transactions of illegal money by officials of the Railways Ministry and called upon its minister, Suranjit Sengupta, to step down immediately.
“We call upon the railways minister to resign immediately by taking the responsibility — at least on moral ground — and create space for an absolutely independent investigation free from any influence so that punitive measures could be taken without fear or favour to anyone,” said a TIB statement issued on Friday.
Bangladesh chapter of the global graft watchdog also demanded the harshest possible punishment of those involved in the transaction of alleged bribe money.
It said the event is an ominous indicator of impending capture of the state by corruption, and comes as a challenge to the government to demonstrate that it has the capacity to prevent such capture.
“The midnight episode that involved sharing of tens of thousands of taka collected through illegal transactions, including extortion, for appointment to public offices under the ministry clearly indicates patronage of corruption by high political and public office,” TIB executive director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said.
“More disturbing is the sheer lack of appropriate action amounting to connivance - whether under influence or not - by the Border Guard Bangladesh, as well as inaction of the police authority,” he said.
Iftekharuzzaman went on: “We’re also disturbed by the lack of information about the whereabouts of the driver of the vehicle, the key witness to the event, and demand that the government and its relevant agencies take all possible measures immediately to find the witness and ensure his security.”
Describing the event as a tip of the iceberg, he said the government that came to power with a strong commitment to control corruption, including specific commitment against unearned income, extortion and bribery, has a challenge now to demonstrate that it has the political will and capacity to restore the trust of people by preventing capture of the state by the ominously powerful corrupt elements within the institutions of politics, administration and law enforcement.
“With less than two years before the next national election, we also urge upon the Prime Minister to take a hard look at the government’s delivery against their electoral pledges to fight corruption and demonstrate that the government is sensitive to the expectations of the people who voted them to power,” Dr Zaman said. —UNB
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