Central Bureau of Investigation
Ranchi: The CBI, which concluded its probe into the Deoghar land scam worth Rs 1,000 crore, has now received sanction from the state to prosecute government officials who allegedly facilitated the illegal sale of around 826 government-owned acres.
The CBI, which got the case in November 2011 and officially took over from 2012, has for two years been piecing together the complicated jigsaw puzzle of the profitable land scam that went on for almost a decade from 2002 to 2011. Now, the agency, which had asked permission to file chargesheets against over two dozen revenue and district officials, has received the state nod to do so against five.
J.B. Tubid, principal secretary of revenue and land reform department, which granted prosecution against some revenue officials, said: “Three days ago, my department cleared the file and granted prosecution sanction to the CBI. The prosecution sanction was granted against five revenue officials.”
For nine years, the land scam in Deoghar district’s three blocks — Deoghar, Mohanpur and Madhupur — was a masterpiece in execution. Allegedly, revenue and district officials not only tampered records, they also changed the handmade map of 1945 with a computer-generated one to help sell off acres violating Santhal Pargana Regulation 1886 and Section 53 of Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act.
The acres came under three categories — gochar (cattle-grazing), bhoodan (donated by landowners as part of Vinoba Bhave’s legendary project) and gair mazrua. The unchecked selling of government land went on for nine years till then Deoghar deputy commissioner M.R. Meena smelt a rat in August 2011.
By then, the rat had turned the size of an elephant.
Vigilance Bureau, which took over the case in September 2011, lodged two separate FIRs against 64 people of which 22 were government servants. Owing to enormity of the case, then Arjun Munda government recommended a CBI probe in November 2011.
For CBI joint-director (Bihar-Jharkhand) A.K. Singh and CBI Dhanbad that has been handling the case since 2012, this is a moment of triumph.
Initially, when the case was under Vigilance Bureau, names of unauthorised staffers at Deoghar district record room, Dhruv Parihast and Sunil Kumar Poddar, had floated as the main culprits who destroyed land records at the behest of the land mafia. However, the CBI probe revealed they were not kingpins but mere cogs.
An agency sleuth said that officials allegedly part of the multi-crore racket included former record room in-charge of Deoghar Mithilesh Kumar Jha; record room head clerk and clerk Amal Kumar Baraik and Niranjan Kumar Rai; former circle inspectors Sidharth Shankar Choudhury, Devendra Kumar and Nand Kishore Subarno; former Deoghar sub-registrar Bhogendra Thakur. Another former sub-registrar of Deoghar Ruplal Manjhi is also on agency’s suspect list.
They are likely to be charged under IPC 423, 424, 467, 468, 469, 471, 477A, 419, 420, 409, 506, 201, 120(B) and 109 and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Santhal Pargana Regulation 1886 and under Section 53 of Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act.
The findings of the CBI probe have alleged that actual government employees — circle level officials, land sub-registrars, revenue employees, record keepers and others — had systematically operated the scam working in tandem with land sharks.
The agency is also understood to have recommended the state government to start departmental action against some senior bureaucrats, who while serving as Deoghar deputy commissioners, had stayed indifferent to complaints in this matter at the height of the scam.
Interestingly, after the scam surfaced in 2011, certain land mafia groups allegedly with help of revenue officials and record room staffers burnt hundreds of land documents. The agency is probing this separately.