The current market value of land allegedly acquired in exchange for jobs by Lalu Yadav’s family when he was the Railway Minister is approximately ₹ 200 crore, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said in a statement today.
The central agency also gave a long list of other assets that it alleged Mr Yadav’s family acquired in the case that came to be known as Bihar land-for-jobs scam.
“PMLA investigation conducted so far has revealed that several pieces of land at prominent locations in Patna and other areas were illegally acquired by the family of the then Rail Mantri Lalu Prasad Yadav in lieu of jobs provided in railways,” the ED said in a statement today, referring to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
“The current market value of these land parcels is more than ₹ 200 crore. In this regard, several benamidars, shell entities and beneficial owners of these lands have been identified,” the ED said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has also summoned Mr Yadav’s son and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav for questioning in the land-for-jobs scam.
The ED said searches at 24 locations in Delhi-National Capital Region, Patna, Mumbai and Ranchi led to the recovery of unaccounted ₹ 1 crore cash, foreign currency of $1,900, 540 gram gold bullion, over 1.5 kg of gold jewellery worth ₹ 1.25 crore and property documents in the name of Mr Yadav’s family members.
The ED alleged four land parcels acquired by Mr Yadav’s family for just ₹ 7.5 lakh from poor Group-D applicants were sold to former Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MLA Syed Abu Dojana by Mr Yadav’s wife Rabri Devi for ₹ 3.5 crore in a “collusive deal”.
It alleged a big portion of the amount was sent to Tejashwi Yadav’s account.
“… During the investigation that in many railways zones, more than 50 per cent of recruited candidates were from Lalu Yadav families’ constituencies. Further investigation in this regard is ongoing,” the ED said in the statement.
Mr Yadav and leaders of his RJD and even their ally and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar have dismissed all the allegations by the ED as politically motivated.
“Action is being taken suddenly after five years. Why didn’t they pursue the case then?” Mr Kumar told reporters today. He alleged the ED is targeting the RJD after his Janata Dal (United), or JD(U), joined hands with Mr Yadav’s party to form government in Bihar. The JD(U) and BJP earlier ruled Bihar in an alliance.
Tejashwi Yadav’s Delhi house was searched by the CBI yesterday. The ED also searched properties linked to his sister Ragini Yadav and others.
Sources close to Tejashwi Yadav had criticised the timing of the move, saying they never expected this kind of vendetta politics from the BJP when his wife is expecting a child. His sister said her family was being “tortured” only because her family has never bent in front of “fascists and rioters”.
“We will remember this injustice. Everything will be remembered. What crime have the sister’s little children committed? What crime has the pregnant sister-in-law committed? Why is everyone being tortured? Everyone is being tortured since this morning. The only crime of these people is that the Lalu-Rabri family did not bow down in front of fascists and rioters. You will get the answer to this injustice when the time comes. Now all this is beyond tolerance,” she tweeted in Hindi yesterday.
Last week, eight opposition parties wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging misuse of central investigation agencies to go after them, amid the political war over the arrest of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia.
“Since 2014, there has been a marked rise in the number of raids conducted, cases lodged against and arrest of the opposition leaders. Be it Lalu Prasad Yadav (Rashtriya Janata Dal), Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena), Azam Khan (Samajwadi Party), Nawab Malik, Anil Deshmukh (NCP), Abhishek Banerjee (TMC), central agencies have often sparked suspicion that they were working as extended wings of the ruling dispensation at the centre. In many such cases, the timings of the cases lodged or arrests made have coincided with elections making it abundantly clear that they were politically motivated,” the opposition leaders said in the letter.