The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday conducted raids in multiple cities, including at the premises of the daughters of former CM Lalu Prasad Yadav and several RJD leaders in connection with a money-laundering probe into the ‘land for jobs’ scam case.
Officials said the case pertains to employment allegedly being given in the Indian Railways. This is in return for land gifted or sold at cheap rates to the Yadav family and their associates.
On March 6, Lalu Yadav’s wife Rabri Devi was questioned at her residence in Patna followed by Lalu Prasad’s questioning in Delhi the following day at his daughter Misa Bharti’s residence.
Although a charge sheet has been filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the case, the string of recent questionings has been in connection with newly obtained leads and information received by the CBI in the case.
CBI sources suggest they received more information on the modus operandi of the scam during the course of the investigation.
Officials are verifying complaints that Lalu Yadav had acquired more property than the agency was aware of in the alleged scam. He was the Railway Minister between 2004 and 2009 during the UPA regime.
Allegations Against Yadav & Co
ED conducted raids in 24 locations including Patna, Mumbai, Delhi, NCR and Ranchi.
In Patna, the ED team began its search operation at the residence of a former RJD MLA from Sitamarhi – a very close associate of Lalu Yadav.
ED conducted raids on SP Verma road in Patna, where his company Meridian Construction Pvt Ltd is located. The team had reportedly reached the office that was located on the third floor of the building. However, they had to wait outside it for over 5 hours because the office was locked.
The team could enter the premises only after Syed Abu Dojana’s brother – another builder – brought the keys to the office and gave them to ED officials.
Syed Abu Dojana who is now a RJD leader has been under the radar of central agencies for a while.
In 2022, CBI had conducted searches at the residences and offices of RJD leaders Dojana and Subhas Yadav in the ‘land for jobs’ scam.
Last year raids were also carried out by the CBI at the premises of MLC Sunil Singh, Rajya Sabha MP Asfaq Karim, Rajya Sabha MP Fayyaz Ahmed, ex-MLC Subodh Rai and former MLA Abu Dojana in Patna, Madhubani and Katihar in connection with the ‘land for jobs’ scam.
Back in 2018, the IT team had raided the residence and offices of builder-turned-politician, Dojana who is considered close to Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Yadav and his family.
Dojana’s company was engaged in the construction of the mall, said to be one of the biggest in Bihar. The construction was however halted by ED in 2018.
The ED action came after the CBI had registered a case alleging quid pro quo in awarding contracts for the operation and maintenance of two IRCTC hotels in Ranchi and Puri in lieu of sale of the land in Patna to Lalu Yadav’s associate Prem Chand Gupta’s company in February 2005 at a throwaway price.
Political War of Words
RJD’s Rajya Sabha MP and Chief Spokesperson Manoj Jha in a statement said, “the pain of leaving power in 2022 is not going away. That’s the reason even the trees and plants in Lalu ji’s courtyard will also be searched, they will also be investigated.”
Without naming anyone, the RJD MP pointed at the BJP and said, “you have tarnished the character of these institutions so much that you will also come under its influence when you will not be at the centre.”
BJP Rajya Sabha MP and Former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi said that Lalu Yadav was born to a poor family and became the biggest landlord merely by getting land for giving away jobs. He has alleged that Lalu Yadav has over 1 lakh square feet of valuable land in Patna alone.
Sushil Modi also claimed that Tejashwi Yadav should explain how he became the owner of a four-storey house worth billions in New Delhi’s New Friends Colony.
He alleged, “Tejashwi Yadav did not even get a decent education. He failed in cricket, but owned 52 properties at the age of just 29. All this without doing any business. Should this not be checked?”
Sushil Modi further alleged that the quid pro quo was also used by Lalu Yadav in allotting key posts to MLAs, MPs, Ministers and even MLCs. “Lalu Prasad received valuable land and kept them in the name of his family members, trapping the whole family. No one else has trapped them. Former MLA Abu Dojana is the same person who was building Tejashwi Yadav’s Rs 750 crore mall in Patna.”
Congress has alleged that the raids were just a form of harassment. Party president Mallikarjun Kharge in a tweet condemned the raids.
पिछले 14 घंटे से मोदी जी ने बिहार के उपमुख्यमंत्री @yadavtejashwi के घर पर ED बैठा रखी है।उनकी गर्भवती पत्नी और बहनें को सताया जा रहा है। @laluprasadrjd जी बुजुर्ग हैं, बीमार हैं, तब भी मोदी सरकार ने उनके प्रति मानवता नहीं दिखाई।
अब पानी सिर के ऊपर से चला गया है।
— Mallikarjun Kharge (@kharge) March 10, 2023
What is the ‘Land for Jobs’ Scam?
The alleged scam dates back to the period when Lalu Yadav served as Union Railway Minister from 2004 to 2009. During this time, the ‘land for jobs’ scam was alleged to have taken place.
The RJD patriarch, his wife Rabri, and his daughters Misa and Hema Yadav were allegedly given plots of land as bribes by individuals hired by the Railways in 2008-2009. In addition to that, the CBI claims that 12 individuals were given jobs in the railway zones of Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata, Jaipur, and Hajipur.
Lalu Prasad Yadav is accused of taking advantage of his position as railways minister by transferring properties into the names of his family members in exchange for the appointment of replacements to Group “D” posts in various railway zones, according to the CBI.
The CBI in its FIR also claimed that in place thereof, the substitutes, who were residents of Patna themselves or through their family members sold and gifted their land located in Patna in favour of the family members of Lalu Prasad and a private corporation owned by family members.
“Substitutes in grade D of railways were recruited who joined the service much later after their appointment. These substitutes were later regularised after they submitted fake documents during the recruitment process which were wrongly verified,” the FIR read.
According to the CBI, no advertisement or any public notice was issued for such appointments and these people were appointed as “substitutes” in different zonal railways at Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata, Jaipur and Hazipur.
According to CBI investigations, Lalu’s family purchased more than a lakh square feet of land in this manner for merely Rs 26 lakh. This is despite the fact that the land’s actual value is estimated to be more than Rs 4.39 crore.
“About 1,05,292 sq feet of land/immovable properties in Patna were acquired by the family members of the said minister through five sale deeds and two gift deeds, showing the payment made to seller in cash in most of the land transfers,” a CBI official earlier told News18.
In “due haste,” railway officials allegedly substituted the candidates for group D positions within three days of their applications, and they were later regularized “in place thereof of the individuals themselves or their family members who donated their land,” according to the agency.
‘Land for Job’ Scam: A brief Timeline
- September 2021: CBI initiated a preliminary investigation into the ‘land for jobs’ scam.
- July 2022 – Close aide and then OSD of railways, Bhola Yadav Arrested by CBI
- August 2022 – Raids at RJD MLC Sunil Singh, MLC Subodh Roy, RJD’s Rajya Sabha MPs Ashfaq Karim and Fayaz Ahmed’s home in Madhubani.
- October 2022 – The CBI submitted a charge sheet against Lalu Yadav, Rabri and 14 others under the charges of criminal conspiracy and provisions of the prevention of corruption act.
- January 2023 – CBI got sanction to prosecute Lalu Yadav in the ‘land for jobs’ scam case
- February 2023 – Rouse Avenue Court summons Lalu Yadav, Rabri, Misa Bharti and 13 others to appear before the court on March 1
- March 6, 2023 – CBI questions Rabri Devi at her residence in Patna
- March 7, 2023 – CBI questioned Lalu Yadav in Delh
- March 10, 2023 – Raids by ED at 24 locations in Patna, Ranchi, Mumbai, Delhi and NCR
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