CBI officer, probing Srijan scam, seeks arrest warrant for netas; shuffled

CBI officer, probing Srijan scam, seeks arrest warrant for netas; shuffled
The CBI officer, SK Malik, who was heading the investigation into the Rs 1500 crore-Srijan scam in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district, has been transferred. He has been asked to join the CBI headquarters in New Delhi. Malik will be replaced by another CBI official N Mahto.

Malik, as the CBI Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP), headed the 20-member probe team. Last week, he had requested the CBI court to issue arrest warrants against certain bureaucrats and politicians, alleged to be involved in the scam, which appears to be bigger than the infamous fodder scam.

Of the four politicians believed to be under CBI scanner, one is a Union Minister, while the other is a BJP Lok Sabha member from Jharkhand. The third leader under the lens is a former BJP MP, while the fourth one is a JD (U) leader, now suspended from the party after his name cropped up in the scam.

Similarly, at least five IAS officers are said to be under CBI radar. All these officers had earlier served as district magistrate of Bhagalpur. One of these officials, after taking VRS, had even unsuccessfully contested 2014 Lok Sabha elections as the JD (U) candidate.

Srijan scam came to light on August 3 when it was detected by Bhagalpur District Magistrate Adesh Titarmare that there has been pilferage of government fund to the tune of around Rs 500 crore by a Bhagalpur-based NGO, Srijan. An investigation by Bihar top cops indicated that around Rs 355.7 crore were fraudulently transferred from three heads – land acquisition (Rs 270 crore), urban development schemes (Rs 70.7 crore) and district administration (Rs 15 crore) – into the account of the NGO, Srijan Sahyog Mahila Samiti.

Srijan was run by a social worker Manorama Devi, who reportedly flaunted her connections with politicians and bureaucrats and helped Srijan spread its tentacles.

Altogether 17 persons, including Prem Kumar, the personal assistant (PA) of Bhagalpur District Magistrate, were arrested after nine FIRs were lodged by the police. Later, when it was found that the embezzled fund had crossed Rs 1000 crore, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ordered a CBI probe into the scam.

One of those arrested, Mahesh Mandal, a clerk in the district welfare department, died last month suffering from a kidney ailment. Though the government claimed Mandal died while undergoing treatment at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College in Bhagalpur, his brother Dinesh Mandal alleged that the incarcerated kin “was allowed to die” as he could have revealed the names of much big fish involved in the scam.

Meanwhile, the CBI has sought remand of all the 17 accused, most of them are clerks in treasuries and bank officials, lodged in Bhagalpur jail. The investigating agency has urged the court that since it wanted to interrogate the accused, they should be shifted to Patna’s Beur Jail.
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