The suicide of an HDFC bank manager in Arunachal Pradesh due to “financial matters” has drawn attention to the illegal transactions — conversion of black money into white —  that have allegedly taken place in the north eastern state after demonetisation came into effect.

The suicide came to light soon after reports emerged that large amounts of cash are being flown into the north eastern states for illegal currency exchange. According to local news websites, Rituparna Gohain, the manager of Naharlagun branch of HDFC branch, committed suicide by hanging himself on 21 December in his rented accommodation.

M Bui, the SDPO of Naharlagun, told The Arunachal Times that the deceased left a suicide note where he mentioned about financial matters. He added that the letter has been sent for forensic test. The report said that the higher officials of the HDFC bank have also reached Naharlagun to probe the matter.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Though there has no been no official statement on what the “financial matters” were, Asomiya Pratidin, a local daily in Assam reported that the note refers to an alleged cash scam. The report mentioned illegal transactions of Rs 1,300 crores in black money and said that the bank manager was facing an enquiry for being allegedly involved in it.

Sources told Deccan Chronicle that a huge amount of fund was smuggled into Arunachal Pradesh post-demonetisation and Gohain was under pressure from various quarters to justify the transactions. The report further said that Rs 1,300 crores were deposited in a few bank accounts and that Gohain had mentioned the names of a few contractors and politicians in his suicide note, who had allegedly deposited huge amounts of demonetised currency in his branch. Sources told Deccan Chronicle that cash belonging to politicians from Assam was routed to Arunachal Pradesh after 8 November.

The tribal-dominated states of north eastern region, Arunachal Pradesh being one among them, have recently come under the radar because of black money conversion due to the income tax exemption status.

As per The Indian Express, a month ago Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu had asked the Income Tax Department to trace all accounts that “deviated from normal history and pattern of deposit and take appropriate action.”

The Indian Express quoted Khandu as saying, “Since frauds are likely to take place on account of tribal people being exempted from taxes, there is every possibility of some people from outside the state trying to use bank accounts of local tribal people to deposit money in huge amount.”

The chief minister’s move came just after a report emerged that Anato Zhimomi, a resident of Nagaland, was arrested for allegedly attempting to convert crores of demonetised currency belonging to a Haryana-based businessman Anil Sood.

In 2012, the Income Tax Department had released a press statement expressing concerns that few people, who are not residents of the North East, are availing benefits of income tax exemption granted to the Scheduled Tribes of the region. As per the report, only income earned in the specified region are subject to income tax exemption.

The problem, however, turned severe after demonetisation, with reports emerging of cash being deposited from other parts of the country in the bank accounts of local tribals for illegal currency conversion. Even terrorist groups in the region were reported to have attempted to deposit their money in the accounts of the local tribals.

Anand Mishra, superintendent of police of South Garo Hills District in Meghalaya told Firstpost that terror money worth a crore has been recovered while being deposited in the bank accounts of local residents.

An income tax official told Firstpost, on condition of anonymity, that there is a common misconception that money deposited in the bank accounts of the local tribals of the region will not be traced. “This is not correct as these transactions can also be subjected to scrutiny,” the source said.

A week has passed by after the bank manager’s suicide and the Arunachal Pradesh government’s continued silence on the issue only raises more questions about the nature of the “financial matters” that was mentioned in the suicide note.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 21:11 IST

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Demonetisation: Suicide of a bank manager in Arunachal Pradesh raises suspicion of illegal transactions