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Saswat Singhdeo

Kendrapara: Charges of embezzlement of money against secretary of Siko Primary Agricultural Cooperative Society (PACS) in Rajkanika of Kendrapara district has sparked outrage among the farmers in the area.

The accused Ajay Behera has been charged with embezzling money worth lakhs of rupees by raising loans in the name of villagers. "I never even applied for the membership of the society and am not even remotely connected with it. But I got to know that around Rs 51,000 has been taken as loan from the bank in my name," Dalika resident Damayanti Mishra said.

Locals have alleged that despite assuring to hand over the loan amount, Behera didn't pay them a single penny and is absconding. "He had assured me two months back that he will pay me and had even asked me to come to the bank. But later I found that he had withdrawn money from my bank account. We demand Vigilance enquiry into the case," a farmer Biswamitra Jena said.

Another farmer Debranjan Behera said, "Without my consent Behera had taken a loan of Rs 39,000 in my name. Legal action should be taken against him."

President of the cooperative society Anant Charan Biswal admitted Behera's involvement in embezzlement and has demanded an audit. "It is confirmed that corruption has taken place, but the amount has to be ascertained," Biswal said.

The district collector has also dismissed Behera on charges of corruption and negligence. "I had received a written complaint from the villagers. After we receive a report action will be taken against Ajay Behera," Kendrapara collector, Dasarathy Satpathy said.

Manager of Cuttack Central Cooperative Bank in Rajkanika said "Action will be taken against the Secretary and the board of management will take steps to address the problems of people who have lost money."

No comments could be obtained from Behera on the charges levelled against him.

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