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Govt in graft quicksand

Patna, Jan. 22: The allegations of corruption against senior government officers have cast a shadow on the credibility of the Nitish Kumar regime, which had promised to make a major assault on graft.

The government’s approach in handling corruption is now being questioned following the suspension of IPS officer Anusuiya Ransingh Sahu, on charges that she was safeguarding the interests of the mining mafia, and the recall of the DIG Saran, Alok Kumar, to the police headquarters following allegations that he was demanding extortion money.

Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi admitted that he had received a few complaints against Alok Kumar when he was senior SP of Patna. “Then why was he given a key posting as DIG Saran?” wondered a retired IAS officer.

Nitish had formed the Special Vigilance Unit (SUV) in 2006 to trap corrupt officials in high places. Today, the SUV is defunct after lodging cases against half-a-dozen officials, among them ex-DGP Narayan Mishra, IAS officer S.S. Verma and former drug controller Y.K. Jaiswal.

Around six months ago, minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary, replying in the Assembly to a question asked by BJP member Achudanand, had stated that 17 IAS officers were facing charges of irregularities. “A vigilance probe is going on against these IAS officers because prima facie there are charges of corruption against them. Yet most of them continue to serve in key posts,” Achudanand told The Telegraph today.

A Calcutta-based firm, Mini Safety Products, recently wrote a letter to the Bihar governor, complaining that an engineer was demanding a bribe of Rs 4.5 lakh for release of payment to the company for installing road studs on the Kankerbagh–Chiraiyatand bridge around three-and-a-half years ago. “The engineer was flaunting his relationship with a senior IAS officer,” said the petition.

The chairman of the Bihar Rajya Pul Nirman Nigam — the organisation that gave the firm the work — said there was a procedural lapse. “The firm should have got its payment. But the charges against the official is baseless,” said the chairman, IAS officer Prataya Amrit.

The Opposition is itching for a fight. “It just strengthens our charges that corruption is rampant, right from the block level to the secretariat. I have levelled charges of corruption against officials — who have been charge-sheeted or are being charge-sheeted — in the Assembly. The government then gave them a certificate of honesty. It was either lying then or is lying now,” said Opposition leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui.