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CBI interrogates Laloo Prasad in fodder scam case

Laloo Prasad Yadav Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal president Laloo Prasad Yadav was interrogated on Monday for nine hours by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the Rs 10 billion animal husbandry department, alias fodder, scam.

The CBI team, led by Joint Director (east) U N Biswas, examined Yadav's role in the scam at the Valmik Guest House on the outskirts of Patna. The CBI team included the agency's Dhanbad superintendent of police, Rakesh Asthana.

Yadav was quizzed by CBI sleuths on the basis of evidence, including one collected from Ranchi which showed scam kingpin S B Sinha as the uncle and the local guardian of the chief minister's children.

Yadav was also asked about the air tickets which were allegedly purchased by the animal husbandry department suppliers and which had been entered in the book of accounts of one J P Verma, an employee of Indian Airlines and supplier in the animal husbandry department. The books of accounts were seized by the CBI from Patliputra Travels in Patna.

Yadav was also asked to indicate his stand about the lapses committed by the finance department in detecting the excess withdrawals made by the AHD officials and for not initiating steps to plug holes through which public money was siphoned off from different treasuries in the state.

Yadav's interrogation was the last in CBI's agenda before it prepares and submits its progress report to the Patna high court on January 17.

The Patna high court, which is monitoring the scam investigation, had repeatedly asked the CBI to delve into the conspiracy aspect of the fodder scam saying that the scam, which was worth more than Rs 10 billion, would not have taken place without the tacit support of senior officials in the political system and the bureaucracy.

The agency has so far interrogated almost all the senior bureaucrats related with the department and politicians whose names had figured in the documents collected by it in course of its over nine-month-long scam investigation.

Prominent among those examined by the CBI in connection with the scam included former chief minister Dr Jagannath Mishra, federal minister Chandradeo Prasad Verma, state Planning Minister Tulsi Singh, state Agriculture Minister Ramjivan Singh, state Animal Husbandry Minister Bhola Ram Toofani, state Chief Secretary A K Basak, and state Development Commissioner Phoolchand Singh.

Besides, a horde of legislators, former ministers of the animal husbandry department, a former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, and senior officers of the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service have been questioned.

The CBI, in the course of its investigation, had arrested scam kingpin and former regional director of the animal husbandry department S B Sinha, regional director (Ranchi) K M Prasad, Janata Dal legislator R K Rana, Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Dhruv Bhagat, Congress legislator Jagdish Sharma, and animal husbandry department suppliers including Tripurarimohan Prasad, Vijay Mallick, Mohammad Sayeed, and Dayanand Kashyap.

Sources said that agency sleuths arrested hawala operator and major supplier Dipesh Chandok from Asansol in West Bengal on Sunday.

Earlier, a week-long interrogation of Chandok was carried out by agency officials in which vital information was collected from him in connection with the scam.

The CBI, during its raids in Calcutta, Patna, and Ranchi at Chandok's home and offices, had recovered several documents regarding investments made by the fodder scamsters. A computer floppy was recovered which, after decoding, revealed the identity of several companies run by Chandok and his family.

The CBI had also come across the payments through cheques made by Chandok to scam kingpin S B Sinha.



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