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FIR against Prakash Jha as police seize cash from his office

An FIR on Wednesday was registered against film-maker and LJP candidate from West Champaran Lok Sabha seat, Prakash Jha after police allegedly seized Rs 10.25 lakh at his guest house following a complaint that he was distributing money to influence voters.

india Updated: Apr 22, 2009 17:04 IST
Vijay Swaroop & SK Shukla
Vijay Swaroop & SK Shukla
Hindustan Times

A day before the second phase of poll, West Champaran police raided the election office-cum-guest house of Maurya Sugar Factory, owned by the filmmaker and the LJP candidate from West Champaran seat Prakash Jha and seized Rs 10.25 lakh following reports that he was distributing money among voters.

Jha called the raid as a clear cut bias of the administration aimed a terrorising and demoralising his supporters.

The raid was conducted on Tuedsay midnight by SDO and SDPO Bettiah under the leadership of West Champaran Superintendent of Police K S Anupam. The police arrested and 38 persons from the guest house. The police teams also raided Congress and the BJP office but nothing indiscriminating was recoveed from these places. At the Congress office, the police arrested four persons in an inaberiated state.

Cases were lodged against 39 persons, including Prakash Jha under section 171-g (false statement in connection with an election), 171-h (illegal payment in connection with an election) and 171-i (failure to keep election accounts), the SP said. They were, however, later let off on furnishing personal bonds, official sources said on Wednesday.

“We raided the office after we got the informaion that some outsiders have entered the district with a view to influence the election and money is being involved for distribution. Raids were also conducted in other parties offices and hotels to flush out such elements,” said the District Magistrate, Dilip Kumar.

Jha, however, denied that the money was meant for distribution among the voters. “In the first place this wis not my election office, which is situated two kms away,” he said while talking to mediapersons. “The money seized was withdrawn from Sugar Mill’s account at Patna on April 17 and was kept at the guest house close to the Maurya sugar factory that I am building. The money was to be paid to the labourers and other employees of the factory,” he claimed.

Alleging bias towards him, Jha said that the district returning officer has asked him not to move in the area on Wednesday, whereas other candidates were roaming freely. He doubtedthat free and fair poll was possible in such circiumstances and the administration became vindictive after hi party demanded CPMF at all the booths.

He alleged that whole drama was carried on at the behest of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi, “who were acting with vendetta against him to sully his image.”

Meanwhile, the DM said that disrict administration has decided to depute CPMF at all the booths of diara area fearing violence and rigging.

First Published: Apr 22, 2009 16:15 IST