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Houses adjourned on day 1, RJD demands judicial probe into Srijan scandal in Bihar

The RJD has upped the ante against the government in Bihar, demanding the resignation of chief minister Nitish Kumar and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi.

india Updated: Aug 21, 2017 14:39 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Patna
government fund transfer scam,RJD,Lalu Prasad
Former chief minister Rabri Devi staging a dharna with other RJD members in the portico of the Bihar legislative council on Monday. (Santosh Kumar/HT photo)

The opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Monday demanded a judicial probe by a retired Supreme Court judge into the multi-crore Srijan scandal, as both houses of state legislature were adjourned after obituary references on the first day of the five-day monsoon session on Monday.

The RJD members who were protesting in the portico of the legislative council demanded that Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi should resign for conduct of a fair and an independent probe.

Meanwhile, Bihar chief Nitish Kumar, while talking to newspersons, said the guilty in the scandal would not be spared in keeping with his government’s zero tolerance policy towards corruption.

The alleged Rs 700-crore Srijan scandal involves fraudulent transfer of government funds into bank accounts of an NGO - the Srijan Mahila Sahyog Samiti - in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district, 235 kms east of Patna.

While former chief minister and opposition leader in the council Rabri Devi demanded that a retired judge of the Supreme Court should probe the Srijan scandal, her son and leader of opposition in the Bihar legislative assembly Tejashwi Prasad Yadav sought a Supreme Court monitored probe.

Drawing a parallel with her husband, Devi said Lalu Prasad had resigned as chief minister during the animal husbandry scam. She said both Kumar and Modi should first resign to “ensure an impartial inquiry into the embezzlement.”

Lalu Prasad and son Tejashwi also tweeted about the death of welfare department official Mahesh Mandal, an accused in the Srijan scandal, arrested by the police on August 13, nine days after chief minister Nitish Kumar broke the scandal at a function in Patna.

In his tweet, Prasad said the deceased was the father of a very rich leader of Nitish’s party in Bhagalpur. He said this was the first death in the Srijan scandal.

Tejashwi tweeted that the accused died in jail under adverse conditions. He said the magnitude of the Srijan scandal was even bigger than the Vyapam scandal (an admission and recruitment scam, involving politicians, senior officials and businessmen in Madhya Pradesh). It involved bungling in pre medical exam, pre dental exam, constable recruitment, and several other exams conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, popularly known by its Hindi acronym ‘Vyapam’.

Earlier, proceedings in the state legislative council and assembly were suspended for the day after paying tributes to the former members who passed away in the intervening period since the last session as well as victims of Kalinga Utkal Express accident at Khatauli, Gorakhpur hospital tragedy and Amarnath Yatra terror attack.

The session of the state legislature began on a stormy note with members of the RJD trooping into the well of the houses in protest against the Srijan fund transfer scam.

Later, the RJD legislators, led by, Rabri Devi, staged demonstration on the premises of the state legislature.

The Srijan scandal came to light after a government cheque of Rs 10 crore presented at a bank on August 3 bounced due to insufficient fund. The Bhagalpur district magistrate had entrusted the probe to deputy development commissioner Amit Kumar. The state government on August 18 transferred Kumar as district magistrate Lakhisarai.

It came to light during the probe that crores of rupees of government funds were illegally transferred to the NGO’s account by forging the signature of the district magistrate. It is believed that the scam was not confined to one department but had spread to multiple departments beyond the geographical boundaries of Bhagalpur.

The state government has recommended the probe of the Srijan scandal to the Central Bureau of Investigation, even as the special investigating team of the Bihar police and its economic offences unit were probing it.

First Published: Aug 21, 2017 14:39 IST