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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Glad I didn’t waste time worrying about my career: Whistle-blower in fodder scam

Amit Khare, additional chief secretary of Jharkhand, was the man who blew the lid off the fodder scam two decades ago. In an interview, Khare spoke at length with HT on how he unearthed the scam.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2017 09:33 IST
Sanjoy Dey
Sanjoy Dey
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Amit Khare who blew the lid off the fodder scam two decades ago.
Amit Khare who blew the lid off the fodder scam two decades ago. (File Photo)

Amit Khare, additional chief secretary of Jharkhand, was the man who blew the lid off the fodder scam two decades ago. He was posted as deputy commissioner, Chaibasa, at that time.

In an interview, Khare spoke at length with Sanjoy Dey of the Hindustan Times on how he unearthed the scam. Excerpts.

You are being attributed for the successful unearthing of the fodder scam. How did you get the tip­off?

The finance department of the then Bihar government had sought a report of withdrawal of funds from animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries for three months. When the report was prepared and it came to me, it appeared abnormally high. The figure was in crores, raising suspicion. Withdrawal of ?7 crore-?8 crore was very high at that time and there was hardly any activity in the department. It was then that I decided to inquire into the matter.

What did you find when you visited the Chaibasa treasury?

On January 27, 1996, I raided the Chaibasa treasury as well as the offices and farms of the animal husbandry department (AHD). It was a cold winter morning when I entered the treasury, located in a corner of the old British Raj building, and started verifying the bills.

Surprisingly, all of them were of the same amount — Rs 9.9 lakh — of the same supplier and all of which prima facie appeared to be bogus. I called the district animal husbandry officer (DAHO) and his subordinates to seek their explanations but was told that they had fled from their offices.

Then, I visited the office of the DAHO and was shocked to find cash, bank drafts and large number of fake treasury bills littered all over. I asked magistrates to seal the offices and alerted all police stations to ensure that records are kept safely. Finally, after cross verifying with the accountant general’s office and the state finance department, it was clear that the amounts withdrawn from the treasury were even more than the states’ total budget (Rs 20-Rs 25 crore) for AHD. I lodged the first FIR in the series of cases, which were later described by many as the ‘fodder scam’.

A special CBI court in Ranchi on Saturday convicted Lalu Prasad in the fodder scam case related to fraudulent withdrawal from Deoghar treasury during 1991­94. Does it have any connection with the Chaibasa case?

After the Chaibasa exposure, inquiries were ordered in all districts for 10 years and, thereby, FIRs were lodged in different districts. There were a series of cases in different districts on the pattern of Chaibasa.

Weren’t you afraid of ruining your own career as Lalu was the chief minister? and a force to reckon with. Were you concerned about your family’s well­being after the exposure?

Honestly speaking, these thoughts did not come to mind on the day when I started enquires. Some ‘vicious friends’ used to say what if the state police implicate me in these cases. I am glad I did not waste my time worrying about my career, family, and future, else I would have never been able to render my duty sincerely.

Who all supported you in the ambitious mission?

This was certainly not possible without the help of a large number of ‘unsung’ heroes who were with me all the time when I was conducting these enquiries. Everybody, including the press, public and a large number of government officials, stood by me during the investigation.

First Published: Dec 25, 2017 09:27 IST

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