Bhako Bala and Banu Bala
Two living beneficiaries of the government's elderly allowance programme have been shown as dead and their names got replaced with two others as the union parishad chairman and the member concerned allegedly issued false death certificates.
The victims, Bhako Bala, 75, wife of late Dulal Chandra Roy, and Banu Bala, 75, wife of late Nil Chad Barmon, both hailing from Khamat Koimari village of Koimari union in Jaldhaka upazila under Nilphamari district, jointly lodged a written complaint with Jaldhaka Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) on February 27.
The same day, UNO Rokon ul Hasan directed the upazila social welfare officer to investigate the matter and submit report within seven days.
Admitting the matter, Upazila Social Welfare Officer Manimun Akhtar said, "The names of previous beneficiaries were replaced with new ones as the concerned union parishad chairman and ward member issued their death certificates."
Bhako Bala (holding allowance passbook No 2948) and Banu Bala, (holding allowance passbook No 2917) in their complaint mentioned that they had been getting the government's elderly allowance since fiscal year 2005-2006 and continued drawing the allowance regularly through their savings accounts at Koimari Haat branch of Janata Bank.
"On February 17 this year, we went to the bank to draw the allowance money of the previous month, but the bank official concerned said that our accounts were closed as the upazila social welfare office informed the bank that the two had died," goes the written complaint.
The bank official also told them that new allowance passbooks were issued against the numbers of the passbooks they used as their names were replaced with new beneficiaries Shushila Bala and Elia Begum.
As per rules, before replacing name of any deceased beneficiary with a new one, the upazila social welfare officer must sent union social worker of the office to the spot to verify the death information, said sources of Nilphamari district social welfare office.
Asked about the matter, Upazila Social Welfare Officer Manimun Akhtar said, "We could not verify the information conveyed by the UP chairman and the member as we were then busy enrolling physically challenged people. I have seized the newly issued allowance passbooks."
Koimari Union Parishad Chairman Kohinuzzaman said he had issued the death certificates seeing the death register of the union and the UP member concerned put his signature in the register and the certificate as informer.
Contacted, the UP member concerned Nilkantho Roy declined to talk to the journalists regarding the matter and said he would explain his position to his higher authorities only.