Sharmili Mallick

In a major development, the police on Monday arrested as many as six people in connection with the massive loan fraud at Gurudijhatia cooperative society in Athagarh of Cuttack district. The fraud had come to light following the suicide attempt by two farmers before the State Assembly in November last year.

Police said the six accused have been identified as Prabodha Ranjan Parida (peon), Bijaya Kumar Das (secretary) and Sangram Kesari Sahoo (assistant secretary) of Gurudijhati Society, while the other three accused were identified as- Athgarh Central Cooperative Bank’s clerk Chitrananda Jena, supervisor Niranjan Parida and cashier Babaji Charan Pradhan. All of them are residents of Cuttack district.

Highly placed sources in the police said that over Rs 1 crore had been misappropriated from the cooperative bank accounts of many people in the district.

Recently, some farmers had staged a protest by blocking the Athagarh-Chandbali road, accusing some staff of Gurudijhatia Cooperative Society and the Central Cooperative Bank in Athagarh of taking loan by using their names.

In November last year, two farmers from Athagarh had also attempted self-immolation near the Odisha Assembly protesting loan irregularities by the concerned cooperative bank. However, security personnel deployed in front of the Assembly managed to save them.

The duped farmers had also submitted a memorandum at the cooperative society two days back asking authorities to reveal the data on the amount of loan sanctioned under their names.

The farmers further alleged that though they had asked to reveal the details of the loan amount six months ago, the concerned bank authorities are yet to furnish the data.

Choudwar Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Satyabrata Lenka said, “We received a complaint regarding the loan fraud in the name of many farmers at the Gurudijhatia Cooperative Society. Based on the FIR, an investigation was launched and we found evidence against three staff of the concerned society and three officials of Central Cooperative Bank. They have been arrested and forwarded to court,” the SDPO said.