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Chara Ghotala, Vyapam Ghotala and now SRIJAN Ghotala
"Honesty is the key of new Politics. If you can fake it, you're in."

My mother often used to say: "Jeeti makkhi niglee naheen jaa sakti -You can't swallow a live fly." It connotes that you can't accept a blatant lie knowingly. And the Rs 700 crore Srijan scam that has taken Bihar by storm is one example of that.

Even if as the somersaulting, old /new Chief Minister of Bihar Shri Nitish Kumar has yet to properly ensconce himself into a seat offered by saffron rath, he is getting the pinpricks.

The disgruntled Lalu Prasad Yadav and his party, the RJD, following the old traditions of BJP, have called for Kumar's resignation. Many of the readers might not be informed that this scandal was clandestinely running parallel to infamous 'Charah Ghotala.' And if you could stretch your imagination, it was coeval with famous 'Vayapam Ghotala' of Madhya Pradesh. This scam have been smoothly going on for over a decade and across two governments.

According to India's largest news feed 'IANS', one Mahesh Mandal, an accused arrested in the Rs 1,000 crore Srijan scam in Bihar's Bhagalpur district died in a hospital. Mandal's condition deteriorated and he died late on Sunday night. He was a clerk at the government's welfare department. Mandal had reportedly facilitated the pilfering of funds by providing original bank statements to Manorama Devi, the Founder Secretary of the NGO. Bhagalpur's senior Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar explained that Mandal was not keeping well after his arrest. He had some kidney problem. The opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has raised questions over Mandal's sudden demise and said, "It is a mysterious death. Is it going the Vyapam Scam way as in Madhya Pradesh — where one after the other the accused and witnesses died. This might have been done to suppress evidence and information that Mandal could have revealed."

To begin with, the NGO, 'Srijan Mahila Vikas Sahyog Samiti Limited' used to provide vocational training to women. The NGO allegedly pilfered funds meant for government welfare schemes from the bank accounts of the Bhagalpur district administration. According to 'The Indian Express' this alleged pilfering happened with the aid and support of government officials, bank employees and Srijan's own staff. It was carried out through direct deposit of government funds into the accounts of the NGO, either through fake third-party endorsements or via forged cheques.

Bhagalpur SSP Manoj Kumar termed the modus operandi as the "sweep method", or the fake endorsements method that included transfer of funds from the state to the Bhagalpur administration. The bank would then get the administration to make a fake endorsement on the back of a cheque to deposit it to Srijan. In the second method, a duplicate cheque series was released for a valid government account that was handed to Srijan. The NGO would then forge the District Magistrate's signature to transfer the funds into its own account.

The scam came to light after a government cheque of Rs 270 crore that was meant to be paid to farmers in lieu of their land for a power plant bounced on August 4. An internal inquiry was conducted and the District Magistrate discovered that the government account did not have enough funds. Further investigation revealed that whenever a government cheque was deposited at one of the two banks involved in the scam – Indian Bank's Patal Babu Road branch and Bank of Baroda's Ghanta Ghar branch – a bank employee or a clerk would inform Manorama Devi. The NGO would then deposit the same amount into the government account so the cheque does not bounce.

After the death of Manorama Devi in February, her daughter-in-law Priya Kumar took over and the cheques began to bounce.

And here is real bone of contention: The government funds were allegedly transferred to private accounts between 2005 and 2013 when BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi was finance minister and deputy chief minister, and Nitish Kumar the chief minister.

The beleaguered Chief Minister of Bihar, in the follow up, has sent an Economic Offences Unit team to Bhagalpur. Nine FIRs have been filed in the case so far, and the number of arrests is up to 18. One of them has already died, as mentioned earlier in this article. The Bhagalpur police on Sunday evening also raided premises of five associates of Srijan founder secretary Manorama Devi. As expected, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad on Wednesday accused chief minister Nitish Kumar of 'destroying evidence' by having his 'favourite' officer, who also 'happens to be of his caste', to lead the economic offences unit (EOU) probe into one of the biggest financial frauds.

"Can an officer, who has participated in programmes of Srijan in the capacity of senior SP of Bhagalpur, ensure an impartial inquiry into the scam?," asked Prasad, wondering as to why the EOU could not lodge any FIR in the case even a fortnight after the inquiry was launched.

The RJD chief was particularly upset over the decision to send EOU IG JS Gangwar to probe the case, even though he had participated in a number of programmes of the non-governmental organisation, Srijan, when he was SSP of Bhagalpur.

The RJD leader asked the CM as to why action was not initiated against the guilty even when the matter was brought to the light in 2013 by the EOU. He said, "Why the district magistrate of Bhagalpur, who lodged the FIR against Srijan, was transferred hurriedly? And what happened to the DM's report about the scam? Why did the state government try to hush up the financial scam, even as the CAG in its 2008 report had busted it?"

"As long as you have a system that is based on the rational that if you are making money you are thereby making a contribution to society, these financial rogue practices will continue."- David Korten

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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