India has unfortunately made its mark globally even for the wrong reasons with innumerable alleged scams and scandals since independence which include political, financial, corporate and others. The latest scam to make an entry is the Srijan scam in Bihar that involves siphoning off money to the tune of about Rs. 1,000 crore INR. Within days of switching allegiance to the BJP, Chief minister Nitish Kumar is now fighting charges from the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
The Srijan Scam
The Srijan Scam revolves round the Srijan Mahila Vikas Sahyog Samiti which is an NGO based in Bhagalpur, and engaged in imparting vocational training to woman. This scam involves Government funds to the tune of about Rs. 1,000 crore INR being illegally diverted in the period 2004 and 2014 to the account of the NGO in Bhagalpur. The money demarcated for various welfare schemes has been literally pilfered in connivance with government officials, bank employees and Srijan’s own staff.
How did they do it?
- The NGO managed fake third party endorsements and direct deposit of government funds were made into the Srijan Mahila Vikas Sahyog Samiti bank accounts.
- Bank statement and passbooks were faked with the help of bank and district officials, mentioning in them the correct amount for the purpose of maintaining official books of account in different government departments.
- The signature of the district magistrate was forged to issue cheques in favour of the NGO. Large sums of money were thus transferred into the account of the NGO.
- The NGO received information when a head of different government departments issued cheque for withdrawal and would reportedly replenish the money in said government account.
The entire scam came out in the open when there was a fall out in the family running the NGO after the death of the founder Manorama Devi in February, 2017. People who had taken loan illegally from the NGO started defaulting in payment which resulted in the NGO being unable to replenish money in government accounts at the time of issuance of a cheque. The scandal thus came to light when a cheque worth 10.32 crore INR bounced on August 3, 2017.
The present status
While initially Manoj Kumar, Bhagalpur’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) was heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the case, the CBI has now taken over the probe.
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered an FIR against the NGO.
- FIRs have also been filed against the Director and ex-Director of the Bank of Baroda’s Saharsa and Bhagalpur branches respectively, along with the ex-cashier and head assistant of the Land Acquisition Office in Saharsa.
- 10 FIRs have been registered in the case, including Manorama Devi, Director of Srijan Mahila Vikash Samilti (the NGO), other officials of the organisation and bank officials. The Economic Offences Unit (EOU) of the Bihar Police are probing the cases.
- A lookout notice against the secretary of ‘Srijan’, Priya Kumar, daughter-in-law of Manorama Devi, and her husband has been issued.
- 18 people, including the district cooperative officer and the district welfare officer, the district magistrate’s stenographer and two bank officers have been arrested so far.
Bihar is indeed in turmoil. While Chief Minister Nitish Kumar brought the scam to light in the public domain on August 8, 2017, and promised that the culprits would be brought to task, there was a furore over the scam in the state assembly marked by sustained protests, walkouts and eviction of Opposition members. The assembly session was then perforce adjourned on Friday. While Nitish Kumar-led Bihar Government ordered a CBI probe into the scam on 18 August, Rabri Devi along with her husband Lalu Prasad Yadav called for Nitish Kumar’s resignation and imprisonment. Lalu alleges that the government funds were 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.