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CBI grills minister, lens on 8 MLAs

Ranchi, May 29: The CBI is tightening its noose around nine MLAs for their suspected role in the 2010 Rajya Sabha cash-for-vote case.

The agency questioned state agriculture minister Yogendra Sao, whose name figures in the FIR, yesterday evening, and will grill RJD MLA Sanjay Prasad Yadav from Godda tomorrow.

According to sources, the CBI is in the process of serving notices to six-seven other legislators, including state minister Annapurna Devi, RJD’s Janardan Paswan, JMM’s Simon Marandi, BJP MLA Umashankar Akela, Congress’ MLAs Rajesh Ranjan and Sawna Lakra. All of them will be asked to appear before the agency for questioning. Since Lakra is in Birsa Munda Central Jail in a murder case, the CBI may grill him inside the jail.

“Two MLAs (Sao and Yadav) have already received notices for questioning. Rest of them were not present at their given addresses. They will be served notices personally soon. This apart, more leaders can be summoned at the later stage,” a senior CBI official told The Telegraph.

According to him, enough documents and evidence were found during raids conducted at their residences last year to ascertain their complicity.

Apart from the leaders mentioned above, CBI officials had also searched the houses of Suresh Paswan, Sanjay Prasad Yadav and Sanjay Kumar Singh Yadav (all from the RJD), Congress’s Sarfaraz Ahmed, Anant Pratap Deo and Saurabh Narain Singh, and JMM’s Vishnu Bhaiya.

In 2010, a private news channel aired a sting operation in which six Jharkhand MLAs — Yogendra Sao, Rajesh Ranjan, Sawna Lakra (all from Congress), JMM’s Simon Marandi and Teklal Mahto (now dead) and BJP’s Umasankar Akela — were caught seeking money and cars in lieu of their votes.

The state vigilance bureau lodged an FIR against them under sections 8, 9 and 171B of the Prevention of Corruption Act and sections 120(B) and 34 of the IPC on the directive of the Election Commission.

The case was subsequently transferred to the CBI following a Jharkhand High Court order last year.

Hearing in RS case

The special CBI court of R.K. Choudhary today began hearing in the 2012 Rajya Sabha horse-trading case with the prosecution presenting Income Tax (I-T) inspector Alok Srivastava as a witness.

Srivastava was a part of the team of I-T and police officers that seized Rs 2.15 crore from an SUV at Namkum, on the outskirts of Ranchi, on March 30, 2012, the polling day.

The vehicle belonged to a close relative of Jamshedpur-based industrialist and Independent candidate in the countermanded Rajya Sabha polls R.K. Agrawal, who is accused of bribing JMM MLA Sita Soren and other legislators to get their votes.

Agr-awal, who is out on bail, was present during the hearing.

During the cross-examination today, Srivastava told the court about the situation under which the amount was seized from a vehicle. According to court sources, he will be examined again on June 4, the next date of hearing.

Last year, the CBI filed chargesheets against Agrawal, another Independent candidate Pawan Kumar Dhoot, his poll agent Sunil Maheshwari, Sita, her associate Rajendra Mandal and her father B.N. Manjhi.


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