Friday, June 9, 2023

CBI arrests Lalu’s close aide Bhola in land-for-jobs scam in Railways

The CBI has arrested former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad’s close aide Bhola Yadav in connection with the “land-for-jobs” scam in the Railways when the RJD supremo was the Railway minister in the UPA government, officials said on Wednesday.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also conducted searches on Wednesday at four premises — two each in Darbhanga and Patna — belonging to Bhola Yadav, who was the officer on special duty (OSD) to the then Railway minister Prasad between 2005 and 2009, they said.
The agency was questioning Yadav for the last three to four days during which a need was felt to do his custodial interrogation resulting in his arrest on Tuesday evening, the officials said.
“The CBI is receiving and expecting more complaints of such nature in the Railways during the tenure of Lalu Prasad as Railway minister and appeals to anyone having concrete information to share with the CBI. His or her identity will be kept secret,” an official said.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal(RJD) alleged that the arrest of Bhola Yadav was a fallout of the party’s opposition to the ruling BJP at the Centre.
The BJP hit back pointing out that most legal wrangles involving the RJD supremo, his family members and confidants had been lodged while the party ruled Bihar or shared power in the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre.
“It is no secret that agencies like the CBI, ED and IT department are being used to harass BJP’s political opponents. Bhola babu’s arrest is parakashtha (the limit)”, said state RJD spokesman Shakti Singh Yadav.
Bhola Yadav, fondly referred to as “Hanuman” or the “shadow” of Prasad among the RJD supporters, was questioned by the CBI in connection with the scam in which land measuring over one lakh square feet belonging to job aspirants’ families in Patna was allegedly purchased or transferred to Prasad’s family members in return for group-D jobs in the Railways as substitutes.
The CBI suspects that Bhola Yadav had played a crucial role in facilitating the jobs and later, the transfer of land to Prasad’s family.
“During investigations, it was found that the then OSD to former railway minister…was involved in the alleged conspiracy in appointment of substitutes. It was further alleged that the accused was managing affairs in transfer of land by the family members of substitutes to the family members of former railway minister,” a spokesperson of the agency said in a statement.
The CBI said Bhola Yadav had also purchased some properties during the period.
Considered to be Prasad’s “man Friday”, Bhola Yadav had taken a plunge in electoral politics and won the Bahadurpur seat in Darbhanga in the 2015 Bihar Assembly polls on a RJD ticket.
He decided to change the seat in 2020 to Hayaghat in the same district, a decision that proved to be costly as he lost the polls.
The agency has also arrested a railway employee, Hridayanand Choudhary, who is an alleged beneficiary of the scam, the officials said.
Choudhary was allegedly appointed as substitute in the year 2005 in the East Central Railway. He had transferred the land to Prasad’s daughter Hema Yadav through a gift deed when the value of land was Rs 62.10 lakh as per prevailing circle rates, the CBI has alleged.
This 3,375 square feet land in Patna was transferred to Choudhary by Brij Nandan Rai through a sale deed for Rs 4.21 lakh, the agency alleged.
The CBI had filed the FIR on May 18 against Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and daughters Misa Bharti and Hema Yadav, in addition to 12 people who were given jobs in the railway zones of Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata, Jaipur and Hajipur, the officials said.
The agency has alleged that land measuring about 1.05 lakh square feet in Patna was acquired by Prasad’s family members by making payments to the sellers 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 Rs 4.39 crore…. Enquiry has revealed that the parcel of land, which was directly purchased by the family members of Lalu Prasad Yadav from the sellers, was purchased at lower rates than the prevailing circle rates,” the FIR has alleged.
It said people were appointed in the Railways without any advertisement or a public notice on the basis of forged documents.
The agency had also carried out searches at Prasad’s residence in Patna and other locations on May 20.
“We reiterate that the latest CBI case and the raids conducted across the country in connection with the same are sponsored by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules at the Centre,” the RJD had alleged after the searches.


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