ED searches Lalu’s family, RJD leaders; seizes cash, gold

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday conducted searches in multiple cities of Bihar and other locations, including premises of former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav’s family and RJD leaders, in connection with a money laundering investigation into the land for jobs ‘scam’ case.
During the raids, Rs 53 lakh, USD 1,900, about 540 grams of gold and bullion and 1.5 kg of gold jewellery were seized, sources in agency said and added that one of the locations searched was a house in south Delhi where Lalu Prasad’s son and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav was present.
The house in Delhi’s New Friends Colony area is the registered address of a “beneficiary company”, A K Infosystems Pvt Ltd, involved in the case but, according to the ED, it was being used as a residential property by the Yadav family.
The searches also covered premises linked to Lalu Prasad’s daughters Ragini Yadav, Chanda Yadav and Hema Yadav, former RJD MLA Syed Abu Dojana, Amit Katyal, Navdeep Sardana and Praveen Jain in places such as Patna, Phulwari Sharif, Delhi-NCR, Ranchi and Mumbai, officials said.
About two dozen locations were searched along with an escort of central security forces, they said.  Dojana briefly appeared on a balcony of his palatial house in Patna to declare to media persons waiting outside that “I don’t know what these people are trying to search at my place”. “I only know this much that we are paying the price for not cowing down before the BJP,” he said.
Premises of companies like Brahma City Pvt Ltd, Elite Landbase Pvt Ltd, Whiteland Corporation Pvt Ltd and Meridian Construction India Ltd were also searched.
The alleged scam pertains to the period when Lalu Prasad was the railway minister in the UPA-1 government.
It was alleged that during the period, 2004-09, various persons were appointed to Group D positions in various zones of the Indian Railways, and in lieu, they transferred their land to family members of Lalu Prasad, the then minister of railways, and A K Infosystems Pvt Ltd.
The officials said Ragini Yadav and Chanda Yadav were ex-directors in A K Infosystems Pvt Ltd, which allegedly received a land parcel from a candidate.  Hema Yadav is alleged to be a “beneficiary” of two land parcels, received in lieu of jobs in the Indian Railways, the sources said. Katyal, according to the ED, is a “close associate” of Lalu Prasad, as well as an ex-director of A K Infosystems Pvt Ltd.
It is alleged that Lalu Prasad’s family, including his wife and former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi, “sold four such land parcels illegally acquired at the cost of Rs 7.5 lakh to a company called Meridian Construction India Ltd, owned  and controlled” by Dojana, for a “consideration” amount of Rs 3.5 crore.
RJD leader Manoj Jha alleged that the CBI and the ED were following “someone else’s script” in conducting searches against opposition leaders and asserted the ED “raids” against his party leaders were a “reaction” to the change in government in Bihar in August last year.
The CBI has filed a charge sheet in the case against Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi and 14 others under charges of criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, and all the accused have been summoned on March 15, officials had said.
The ED case, filed under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, stems from this CBI complaint.
Both Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi were questioned by the CBI in this case recently.
It is alleged by the CBI that no advertisement or public notice was issued for appointment but some residents of Patna were appointed as substitutes in different zonal railways located at Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata, Jaipur and Hazipur, it is alleged.
As a quid pro quo, the candidates, directly or through their immediate family members, allegedly sold land to the family members of Lalu Prasad at highly discounted rates, up to one-fourth to one-fifth of the prevailing market rates, the CBI had alleged.
Tejashwi Yadav, after the questioning of his parents by the CBI recently, has told reporters that the then railway minister Lalu Prasad had “no powers” to give employment in exchange for favours.

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