CBI raids 25 places linked to RJD leaders on Bihar floor test day

Updated on Aug 25, 2022 07:47 AM IST

The raids which lasted close to 10 hours were conducted at Patna, Katihar, Madhubani, Vaishali and Danapur, and started hours before Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was due to face a trust vote in the state assembly days after parting ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and forming the government in alliance with RJD, Congress, and the Left parties.

RJD is the single largest party in the state assembly and the biggest constituent of the seven-party ruling alliance, which cried foul over the raids and linked them to the change in government in Bihar and the BJP’s loss of power.(PTI)
RJD is the single largest party in the state assembly and the biggest constituent of the seven-party ruling alliance, which cried foul over the raids and linked them to the change in government in Bihar and the BJP’s loss of power.(PTI)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday carried out searches at 25 locations in connection with a case filed on May 18 against Bihar’s ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, his family members, and 12 others in a jobs-for-land case dating back to 2008-09 when he was the railway minister.

The raids which lasted close to 10 hours were conducted at Patna, Katihar, Madhubani, Vaishali and Danapur, and started hours before Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar was due to face a trust vote in the state assembly days after parting ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and forming the government in alliance with RJD, Congress, and the Left parties.

RJD is the single largest party in the state assembly and the biggest constituent of the seven-party ruling alliance, which cried foul over the raids and linked them to the change in government in Bihar and the BJP’s loss of power.

“I do not wish to comment on the merits and demerits of the case. But the timing of the raids is a clear indication that the investigating agencies are trying to help the BJP,” said Upendra Kushwaha, a leader of Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) or JD (U).

Former chief minister Rabri Devi, the wife of the RJD chief and a co-accused in the case, whose residence was earlier raided, said people were watching and understood what is behind these raids.

The residences of RJD lawmakers Sunil Singh, Ashfaq Karim, and Faiyaz Ahmed as well as Subodh Rai, a former member of the state legislative council, were among those raided.

Singh said the raids were clearly intimidatory. “Why else is the raid being conducted today? We cannot even see the local police, who normally accompany CBI officials during raids,” said Singh.

Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation lawmaker Sandeep Saurav said the raids clearly show the BJP has abandoned constitutional propriety. “No raid takes place at any leader of the party [BJP]...”

BJP leader Pramod Kumar accused RJD leaders of amassing wealth and said that is why they were facing raids. “Nitish Kumar not only betrayed the mandate given to [the BJP-led] NDA [National Democratic Alliance] for ruling Bihar but also tied up with the corrupt. We are not worried about allegations of a witch-hunt,” he said as the ruling alliance cited a pattern in the raids targeting non-BJP parties.

An under-construction mall in Gurugram was among the places raided. CBI officials in Delhi said the mall was linked to Tejashwi Yadav and its construction was being done using proceeds of crime in the case. Yadav, the state’s new deputy chief minister, however, took a jibe at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) saying CBI, ED and the Income Tax department were “its three jamais (son-in-laws)” and that he was not scared of them. He said the mall belonged to someone in Haryana and was inaugurated by a BJP member of parliament.

Searches were also being carried out in Delhi, Patna, Madhubani, Katihar, etc.

CBI registered a preliminary inquiry in September 2021 before booking the RJD chief, his wife Rabri Devi, their daughters Misa Bharti and Hema Yadav apart from 12 others for their alleged role in the jobs scandal. The jobs were allegedly provided within three days of applying in “undue haste” and later regularised “ and the individuals themselves or their family members (then) transferred their land”, CBI claimed its FIR.

The appointments were allegedly made without any advertisement or public notice , and on the basis of forged documents, the agency added.

The land transfers were allegedly made through three sale deeds in the names of Devi and Bharti and two gift deeds in the name of Hema Yadav, the agency alleged. CBI claimed the RJD chief’s family also acquired land measuring about 1.05 lakh square feet in Patna by making payments in cash.

“The current value of the above said seven parcels of land, including the land acquired through gift deeds, as per the existing circle rate is about 4.39 crore... Enquiry has revealed that the parcel of land, which was directly purchased by the family members of Lalu Prasad from the sellers, was purchased at lower rates than the prevailing circle rates,” CBI said in its First Information Report.

(With inputs from PTI)

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