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Land-for-jobs triggers storm

Land-for-jobs triggers storm

Author: Amarnath Tewary
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: August 14, 2008

Lalu faces mounting anger

A day after Janata Dal(U) Bihar president Rajiv Ranjan Singh exposed how Railways Minister Lalu Prasad has become a landlord worth Rs 100 crore in just four years by giving away jobs in lieu of land and property, the RJD leaders on Wednesday jumped into the ring to save their master the ignominy.

In response to 600 pages of land documents released by the JD(U), the RJD released a four-page explanation. Interestingly, in some of the cases, the party conceded the charges.

Take for example:

Referring to one such land deal, the RJD leaders admittedly explained that Rabri Devi's father had purchased about 21 kattas in 2004 from Lal Babu Prasad and Kalawati Devi for Rs 6.5 lakh and since it was his "heartiest wish" to gift the land to his daughter, he did so in his lifetime. "So it is ridiculous to allege that the land was bought by money given by Rabri Devi," the RJD responded.

Interestingly, Shiv Prasad Chaudhary was a few years ago allotted gair-majurwa land in his village Selar Kalan in Gopalgunj. These plots were given only to landless people.

Before "purchasing" a total of 21 kattas, Shiv Prasad Chaudhary was a landless man. "But suddenly he got enough money in 2004 to buy the land plots and gift them to his daughter in 2006?" wondered JD(U) State president.

In another reference, the RJD admitted that Lalu's brother-in-law Prabhunath Yadav had bought one-and-a-half katta in 1980, on which a few rooms were constructed. It was later gifted by him to Lalu's sons Tej Pratap and Tejashwi Yadav. The JD (U) had made the same allegation earlier, apprehending that like Shiv Prasad Chaudhary this land too might have been purchased in the name of Prabhunath Yadav by Lalu's family.

In a different reference, the RJD admitted that when Lalu had to vacate the chief ministerial bungalow at 1 Anne Marg, he was forced to look for a place to shift his animal farm. In this situation, Kanti Singh and her son Rishi Kumar donated their land on lease for making a cowshed in Danapaur. The JD (U) had earlier made the same allegation, saying RJD leader Kanti Singh had donated her land for political profit. Kanti Singh is a Minister in the UPA Cabinet from RJD quota.

Similarly, the RJD made it clear in another reference that in his capacity as a member of the Grih Nirman Sahyog Samiti Limited, Patna Minister and RJD MP Jai Prakash Yadav had signed the registration of a plot allotted to party MP and Lalu aide Prem Chand Gupta. The RJD response also claimed that these issues were earlier cleared by both Kanti Singh and Raghunath Jha.

Incidentally, all those RJD leaders who were involved in the "donation" of the land/properties to Lalu's family are Ministers in the UPA Government from the party quota.

And in almost all land dealings between Lalu's family and others, two names are permanent fixtures: Bhola Yadav, s/o Sri Ram Prakash Yadav, A-3/4, Rajbanshi Nagar, Bailey Road, Patna; and Anwar Alam, deed writer, Sadar registry office, Patna (L No 03/02).

Bhola Yadav is currently Lalu's Man Friday and takes care of all his family and official obligations at the RJD chief's 10 Circular Road residence in Patna. It is said that he works as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) for Lalu, though it's not been confirmed.

Anwar Alam, s/o late Abul Khair, has -- along with Bhola Yadav --been mentioned as witness in the house gifted by Raghunath Jha to Lalu's sons in Gopalgunj.

Meanwhile, the papers released by the RJD mentioned cheque numbers of different denominations issued by a lesser known bank, Awami Co-operative Bank, for buying lands by Kishundeo Rai and Sanjay Rai. They claimed that Rs 7.5 lakh were paid to them. But who made these payments is not clear in the papers. Both had sold their land in Danapur, Saguna, to Rabri Devi in February 2008.

Similarly, the papers also explained that Rs 3.55 lakh were paid to Manoj Kumar, Rajesh Kumar, Binod Kumar, Gopi Krishna and Shushila Devi through cheque numbers 511176 to 511180. All those mentioned had sold 2.5 kattas to Tejashwi Yadav on February 25, 2006. But it's not again clear who made the payment, though RJD leaders said it has been shown in the IT returns.

The party leaders claimed that Rs 2.5 lakh were paid (cheque number 121956, issued by Awami Co-operative Bank, Patna) to Shobha Kumari on December 4, 2007, for the land she sold to Tej Pratap, and this payment too is mentioned in the IT returns. But again the RJD response papers did not mention who made the payment.

A battery of senior RJD leaders -- including Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Shyam Rajak, Ram Kripla Yadav, Shakil Ahmad Khan, Shyam Sunder Singh Dheeraj and Dr Nihora Prasad Yadav -- later alleged that all the land-for-job papers released by the JD (U) were "forged" and that it was a "conspiracy to defame Lalu Prasad and his family in the eyes of the people".

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