CBI officers come out of Deoghar jail after interrogating the accused duo on Friday. Picture by Arun Keshri
Dumka, Feb. 22: A three-member CBI team from Dhanbad today interrogated two accused in the Rs 1,000-crore Deoghar land scam inside the local jail for over two hours, close on the heels of a high court directive to speed up investigations.
The sleuths interrogated Dhruv Parihast, the kingpin, and Sunil Kumar Poddar, both of who were arrested after the scam was unearthed in August 2011. The two worked as unauthorised staffers at the district record room.
Poddar, according to the FIR lodged in this connection, used to tamper land documents at the behest of the mafia against hefty amounts.
The two real estate agents were named accused in an FIR lodged by the district administration in connection with the scam involving the illegal transfer of hundreds of acres of private and government land for three years.
Deoghar SP Subodh Prasad said the district police provided strategic support to the CBI team to interrogate the duo, although he did not reveal details.
The matter was handed over to the CBI by the Arjun Munda government in September 2011, considering the magnitude of the scam that hinted at illegal transfer of 800 acres of government and private land.
Many government servants ranging from the rank of panchayat-level staff to sub-divisional officers are under the scanner for conniving with the land mafia who reportedly enjoyed political patronage.
The land scam was scented in August 2010 when large number of complaints flooded the office of then deputy commissioner M.R. Meena, as individuals alleged that their plots were no longer registered in their names.
After sniffing Meena’s move to report to the state headquarters, Parihast and Poddar allegedly tried to take away the documents and destroy them even before an inquiry could begin.
An inquiry conducted by Meena revealed large-scale transfer of gochar (meant for cattle grazing) and private land in violation of the Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act and he referred the matter to the government, leading to a probe by a higher agency. In Deoghar 90 per cent land belong to the non-saleable category under the SPT Act.
Statistics available with the Deoghar administration also revealed that 3,000-4,000 deeds are registered annually since the days of undivided Bihar, an abnormally high figure compared to other districts in the region that record a few hundreds annually.
The Munda government had earlier handed over the Deoghar land scam case to the state vigilance department.
The vigilance bureau lodged separate cases in October 2011, in which 64 persons were made named accused including government officials.
The practice of illegal transfer of lands was extended to half dozen blocks of Deoghar district.