Hazaribagh, July 27: If you thought bribes were an under-the-table, shady affair, think again. Babus at the Hazaribagh civil surgeon’s office demanded and got Rs 600 from nearly 70 persons in a hurry to join their teaching posts and needed to show medical fitness reports as a formality.
This institutionalised and brazen incident was orchestrated across two days.
On Thursday evening, the 70 candidates — they had qualified in the JPSC exam as Plus Two teachers for schools in Hazaribagh, Chatra, Koderma, Giridih and Ramgarh and received appointment letters from chief minister Arjun Munda on Wednesday in Ranchi — assembled at the Hazaribagh civil surgeon’s office for fitness tests. There, head clerk Sanjay Kumar Mishra allegedly told them that they each must pay up Rs 600 to get the certificate.
Most complied and paid the money; a few well-connected ones refused.
On Friday morning, those who had paid the bribe money — call it a sweetener if you will — received their certificates. Even the mandatory medical test was also done away with. It meant that people who paid up did not need to get their blood pressure or eyesight checked or their height and weight recorded.
This correspondent got wind of this when he visited sadar hospital around noon, where civil surgeon Binay Kumar’s office is situated, and heard candidates demand certificates. Some were heard shouting: “I have paid the money yesterday, why is my certificate not ready?”
Clerks, presumably Mishra’s juniors, pacified them saying it was a matter of 70-odd certificates and had to be issued one by one. “Koi asaan kam nahi hai jo aap log halla kar rahe ho (It is not an easy job that you guys are yelling),” a clerk shouted back.
Head clerk Sanjay Kumar Mishra literally bulldozed the few unwilling candidates into paying up. “Paisa to aapko dena hi hoga. Aapka hi kaam kar rahe hai. Nahi doge paisa to jhanjhat mein padoge (You have to pay. We are doing your work. If you don’t pay, you’ll land up in trouble),” Mishra was heard telling candidates.
When this correspondent, posing as a candidate, approached the clerks, he was asked to show his “appointment letter” and pay Rs 600 to get the medical certificate.
The Telegraph contacted deputy commissioner Manish Ranjan and told him about this broad daylight malpractice. The deputy commissioner promptly called up civil surgeon Binay Kumar and sought a report, promising suitable action. The civil surgeon made no comment.
District RJD president Bhuvaneshwar Patel was in the civil surgeon’s office as an influential candidate had complained to him about the bribe demand. “I am amazed that a demand of Rs 600 has been made from successful candidates. It is very wrong,” he said.
However, the advantages of taking and giving bribes were enumerated succinctly by a candidate. “If we don’t bribe the clerk, we have to go for check-up that will take five to 10 days. By spending Rs 600 we can join today. Aur joining ka matlab hota hai meter turant chalu,” he said.