The Telegraph
Saturday , August 12 , 2017

NGO's connections in focus

Patna/Bhagalpur, Aug. 11: Local residents and investigating officers are pointing to the political links and clout of the Bhagalpur NGO at the centre of the fund-transfer scam.

"We used to entertain district magistrates and the senior officials who used to visit the office frequently when Manorama Devi (founder of the NGO) was alive," said an office-bearer of the Sabour-based Srijan Mahila Vikas Sahyog Samiti Ltd. "I've been serving here since 1996 and am witness to all malpractices."

Manorama's younger son Amit Kumar and his wife Priya Kumar alias Priya Sinha used to run the NGO after Manorama's death in February this year. Priya, sources said, is the niece of Jharkhand Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay.

Amit and Priya, local residents said, used to throw parties that influential people would attend. A sum of Rs 15 crore had been transferred to the bank account of an influential politician's niece in Patna from the NGO's account, said sources in the probe team.

The money trail also leads to Mumbai, Dehradun, Delhi and other big cities. The beneficiaries are on the radar of the SIT. The transfer of government funds to Srijan's bank accounts started in 2007-08, said sources

"At least eight IAS officers who served as district magistrate of Bhagalpur are under the scanner of the special investigation team (SIT)," said a source.

The last transfer of money in the bank account of the NGO was done in January this year, weeks before the death of Manorama Devi.

The NGO used to transfer back money to the district administration's accounts so that government cheques would not bounce and no one would come to know that government funds were being stolen. The last such transfer, sources said, was of Rs 16 crore in March this year.

Investigations have revealed that Bank of Baroda facilitated the transfer of funds to Srijan's accounts.

The Bhagalpur branch of the Bank of Baroda used to credit third-party cheques of high values in the account of the NGO, sources said.

One such case of a third-party cheque for Rs 7.32 crore had come to the fore in 2013 when Jayashree Thakur, an additional district magistrate-rank official posted in Banka with additional charge of Bhagalpur, was quizzed by the economic offences unit in connection with a disproportionate assets case.

Even money for work done with MP development funds were settled through Srijan's accounts, sources said.

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