Pala seeks clarification on James-coal trade link

By our journalist

SHILLONG, June 4: Following media reports on coal illegalities finding mention for James Sangma, Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) Chairman Vincent H Pala said the state government should make it clear that the Health Minister James PK Sangma’s name was linked to illegal anthrax. trade again.
“The government should clarify and set up an investigation if only to appease the public,” he said on Saturday.
Allegations of manipulation of the system to unload coal from Meghalaya in Bangladesh resurfaced after a Guwahati-based news channel published an article about reported links between Sangma and infamous coal trader Balwant Soni.
“James’ name appeared in a media (release) not from her but from Guwahati. We cannot say if the report is true or false and so it is up to him to clarify,” Pala said.
“If the government thinks the allegations are false, they should press charges against the channel. But if it is calm, it will mean something is wrong,” he said, adding that the chief minister was responsible for mining.
Sangma, a former interior minister, denied the charge.
“If we accuse someone, we have to back it up with evidence. We all know that accusations fly left and right. I haven’t seen the video. Anyway, I’m very sure it’s something I’m not involved in. It’s just a simple accusation,” he said.
Asked when the video was released, Sangma said such “frivolous and baseless” accusations would continue to come before the 2023 assembly elections.
The news channel’s investigative report, which has gone viral on social media, said Soni alias Bhama found an ‘Aladdin’s lamp’ to boost his income from Rs 3 lakh to over Rs 100 crore in three years since 2016. The jump was more than 400%, according to the report.
“Jai Maa Coal Pvt Ltd, a Guwahati-based company is used by Soni as a front. The director of the company is Bhama’s son, Youdhistra Bhama, and the board of the company is none other than Bhama’s wife. The company falsified invoices, understated tax invoices and transported coal from Meghalaya to Bangladesh through the Gasuapara customs station in the Baghmara region. It is alleged that Bhama’s family has close ties to James Sangma, brother of Conrad Sangma,” the report said.

Harry D. Gonzalez