Fodder scam case: Inside the Chaibasa treasury

Chaibasa TreasurySahdeo Prasad (left), jailed for four years, and B N L Das, who got six years, outside the treasury. (IE Photo: Deepu Sebastian Edmon)

The Chaibasa treasury is a boring place. There are no heaps of gold coins, for one. The only yellow in sight is the colour of the wrapping paper on files. In fact, the only reference to money is in the name of the online interface used to manage treasury affairs - Kuber.

Not so long ago, this building, located within the campus that houses the office of the Deputy Commissioner, went through interesting times. "I once saw a Rs 1 crore bill for the Animal Husbandry Department," says B N L Das, who retired as an accountant at the treasury in 1994. He has since been convicted in three cases of fodder scam and sentenced to a maximum of six years in jail. Das, who has spent almost three years in jail, is now out on bail.

Chaibasa in Jharkhand's West Singhbhum district is the site which launched 53 cases; the 45th one saw the recent jailing of Lalu Prasad for five years.

"DC Amit Khare raided the AHD office on the night of Republic Day in 1996. On January 28, I was told to keep all AHD-related files separately. A team of officials came from Patna on February 2; they interrogated me. Financial Commissioner Phool Chand Singh insisted that it was all the treasury's fault," recalls Sahdeo Prasad, who retired as a scrutiny clerk in 1999. Singh was sentenced along with his chief minister; he has to serve four years in jail. Prasad has been convicted in four cases, getting a maximum sentence of six years. Both Prasad and Das are accused in the ongoing trial in the case originating out of a supplementary chargesheet to RC 20(A)/96, in which Lalu has been convicted. Seven cases were registered for fraudulent withdrawals from the Chaibasa treasury; Prasad is accused in five, Das in four. Six officials of treasury were booked two treasury officers, three accountants, a scrutiny clerk.

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