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CBI arrests former OSD to Lalu Yadav, railways employee in ‘land for jobs’ case

According to the CBI, the fresh case is based on the allegations that when Lalu was the railway minister in the UPA govt, he allegedly took land plots as bribe from some people who were recruited as substitutes (Group D posts) in the railways.

lalu yadavBhola Yadav served as OSD to Lalu Yadav during 2005-09, officials said. (Express File Photo)

The CBI on Wednesday arrested Bhola Yadav, former OSD to Lalu Prasad Yadav when the latter was the railway minister, along with a railway employee in connection with the ‘land-for-job’ scam. The case pertains to allegations that Lalu and his family took land to provide jobs to people in the Indian Railways.

The CBI raided the residence of Bhola Yadav at Mitra Mandal Colony, Patna, and three other places in Patna and Darbhanga. Bhola, a former MLA from Darbhanga, held immense clout in Lalu’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and continues to be loyal to the family. The arrested railway employee has been identified as Hridayanand Choudhary.

According to the CBI, the fresh case is based on the allegations that when Lalu was the railway minister in the UPA government (2005-09), he allegedly took land plots as bribe from some people who were recruited as substitutes (Group D posts) in the railways. The CBI had in May booked Lalu and his family members in this connection and searched their premises.

“During the investigation, it was found that Bhola Yadav managed land transfers by the family members of substitutes to the family members of Lalu. The said accused [Bhola] had acquired some properties during the said period,” said a CBI spokesperson.

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The agency has alleged that as many as 12 people from Patna were appointed in Group D posts in the railways and family members of Lalu got seven plots of land in the city and elsewhere for a pittance. All these plots belonged to the families of those 12 people.

According to the CBI, Lalu’s family acquired over 1 lakh square feet of land in this way for a meagre Rs 26 lakh when the then circle rate put the cumulative value of the land at over Rs 4.39 crore.

As many as 16 people have been named as accused in the FIR, including Lalu, his wife Rabri Devi, daughters Misa Bharti and Hema Yadav.

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The CBI initiated a preliminary inquiry in this regard in September last year. “…Individuals (those who were given jobs) themselves or their family members transferred their land in the name of family members of Lalu, and a company, AK Infosystems Private Limited,” said the CBI in the FIR.

According to the CBI, all rights with assets of AK Infosystems were transferred to the daughter and wife of Lalu in 2014. “Rabri Devi purchased majority of shares of the company in 2014 and subsequently became its director,” the CBI has said. The agency said in the seven land sale deeds, three were executed in favour of Rabri, one in the name of Misa, one in favour of AK Infosystems, and two gift deeds were executed in favour of Hema.

“Inquiry has revealed that no advertisement or any public notice was issued for appointment of substitutes in different railway zones in Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata, Jaipur and Hajipur…undue haste was shown in processing certain applications…within three days, their appointments were approved,” the CBI FIR said.

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Lalu has been convicted in four fodder scam cases and is facing trial in another. Lalu and his family members are also facing trial in another corruption case [IRCTC scam], facing allegation of favouring a private firm in lieu of prime land in Patna. The CBI in 2018 chargesheeted Lalu, his wife Rabri and son Tejashwi in the case. The case is allegedly a quid pro quo, wherein Lalu’s family received a prime piece of land in Patna at a throwaway price from the owners of the company that bagged the contract for the operation and maintenance of IRCTC hotels.

Former Bihar deputy CM and Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi said: “Documents show that Bhola Yadav has been a witness on papers for over 40 land transactions to Lalu’s kin. RJD leaders Kanti Singh and Raghunath Jha are some of leaders who had also transferred their property to Lalu’s family. Arrested Hridayanand Choudhary had transferred 7.6 decimal land to a daughter of Lalu Prasad.”

RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari, however, called the raids a “political vendetta”. “We are not getting cowed down by all this. People are watching it and would give BJP a befitting reply in elections. We are still the single largest party of Bihar despite all smearing campaign against us,” he said.

(With inputs from Santosh Singh in Patna)

First published on: 27-07-2022 at 11:37:41 am
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