Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crores lost in Railway post office savings scam

Dear Comrades,

HOWRAH: Crores of rupees have allegedly been siphoned off the savings accounts of several customers of the Howrah railway station post office.

Many of the victims are railway employees posted at Howrah station. They were alerted after their passbooks were collected by the post office for verification.

When the depositors complained, they were told that investigations have already started against the then postmaster Bijoy Naskar. Kalipada Mondal, who is in charge now, told TOI that he wasn't aware of what had happened. The depositors aren't sure if their money will be returned.

Jamuna Rai, a railway employee, is among them. The receipt he got when he deposited his passbook on March 29 showed his balance was Rs 103,298 (Account No. 93500184). On May 12, he received a duplicate passbook that showed his balance as Rs 34,329.

"When I complained, there was a new post master who told me to complain to a postal department inspector. The inspector took down my phone number and said he would call me. I don't know if I will get my money back," Rai said.

N C Bhatta, another depositor, produced documents to show that he lost nearly Rs 53,000. The account (No. 93500028) is in the name of his wife Krishna Bhatta. The receipt says the balance is Rs 54,899.55. But when she received the duplicate passbook, the balance column showed Rs 1,995.55. There were no records to reveal where the Rs 52,904 vanished.

"We have had accounts at this post office since the 1980s. We never suspected that something like this was possible. The former postmaster behaved very well. We were shocked when we came to know of the scam. Will we get our money back? I know of a friend of mine who had saved money for his son's admission. It's gone," Bhatta said.

The plight of Sajal Kumar Das is worse. He knows that he has lost money from two accounts but doesn't know exactly how much. He had Rs 149,755.35 in all.

"Our passbooks haven't been returned yet. We weren't even told of any problem by the post office. When I went to inquire, officials checked the ledgers and said that the balances in the accounts were much less than what has been stated in the passbooks. I don't know how much we have lost," Das said.

H P Kora, the senior superintendent of post offices, Howrah Division, said that he has received a complaint from depositors and an inquiry is in progress. "There has been a problem and we are investigating it. We have asked the depositors to submit claims. Their claims will be settled if they are found to be correct after verification," he said.

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