Months before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation and emphasised on cashless transaction in country, a low level government karmachari in Jharkhand’s Latehar district seems to have become well versed with relevance of ‘cashless transaction’. He got bribe-money to the tune of Rs 5 lakh electronically transferred to his wife’s bank account.
Bharhul Ganjhu, a member of Dalit community had to pay Sunil Mahali - a karmachari ( a low level revenue functionary ) and also acting as Circle Inspector in Balumath – Rs 5 lakh as bribe to ensure that Rs 60 lakh that his family had received as compensation for the land that was acquired for Tori-Shivpur railway line construction project, was not taken back by revenue officials.
Mahali regularly threatened Ganjhu to transfer Rs 5 lakh to his wife Beena Devi’s bank account, or else the entire amount that he had received in his bank account would be taken back and they would not get the next instalment of land compensation.
When Ganjhu did not budge , Mahali himself got the bribe money (Rs. 5 lakh) transferred from Ganjhu’s account with State Bank of India Bhaisadon branch in Balumath to his wife’s bank account with State Bank of India branch at Muri through real time gross settlement (RTGS), an online fund transfer system, on May 20, last year.
The matter came to light when Ganjhu found only 55 lakh – instead of Rs 60 lakh- in his account. He complained to the Balumath Up Pramukh Sanjeev Sinha and further inquiry at different levels by local Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) leaders revealed the fraud.
Sinha informed Hindustan Times, “Preliminary inquiry by us revealed the names of other victims who had also to cough up bribe to Mahali. We apprised chief minister Raghubar Das about these gross irregularities at Ranchi on February 28 and he subsequently ordered an official inquiry.”
A probe team led by Latehar deputy development commissioner (DDC) Anil Kumar Singh found substantial evidence against Mahali during the on-spot probe in Balumath on Wednesday.
Based on the preliminary report submitted by the team, the district administration passed orders for lodging criminal cases against Mahali, his wife and their son. “Mahali, his wife Beena Devi and their son Mukesh will be booked in this connection. Their son was named after it was found that the transferred money was deposited in his name,” said Latehar deputy commissioner Pramod Kumar Gupta.
The DC further said, “The role of several other government officials was also under scanner. A team of senior officials is conducting the thorough probe to fix them.