NEW DELHI/Patna: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday conducted raids at multiple locations in Bihar and Haryana in connection with the "land-for-railway-jobs" scam that allegedly took place when Lalu Prasad Yadav was the Union minister for railways during UPA-I period.
According to agency officials, searches were conducted at 25 locations in Gurgaon (Haryana), Patna, Katihar and Madhubani in Bihar, including the residences of the RJD leaders.
The agency also raided an under-construction mall "Urban Cubes" in sector 71, Gurgaon. It is believed that the under-constriction mall is being built by a firm reportedly owned by Bihar deputy CM Tejashvi Yadav.
The CBI’s raids came on the day when Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who recently parted ways with the BJP to ally with the RJD, faced a trust vote in the state Assembly.
The search operations were carried out at the premises of several senior RJD leaders, including MLC Sunil Singh, Rajya Sabha MPs Ashfaque Karim and Faiyaz Ahmad and former MLC Subodh Rai, the officials said.
The move comes a month after the CBI had arrested Lalu Yadav's aide Bhola Yadav in connection with this case. The latest raids are based on information that came to light during the questioning of Bhola Yadav, the sources said.
According to officials, the Central probe agency has named Lalu Prasad Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi and daughters Misa Bharti and Hema Yadav, in addition to 12 people who were given jobs in the railway zones of Mumbai, Jabalpur, Kolkata, Jaipur, Hajipur in 2008-09.
Reacting to the sudden raids, former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi said the action was to scare the party that has formed a government in Bihar in an alliance with JD(U).
"It seems that they are scared. All parties in Bihar, except the BJP, are with us. They want to scare us with such raids but they cannot succeed," Ms Devi said.
Responding to raids on several of his party leaders, deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav described the CBI, ED and Income Tax as the "three jamais (sons-in-law)" which the BJP uses where it is not in power.
"When the BJP is scared of losing, it sends three jamais -- CBI, ED and Income Tax. Whenever I go abroad, the BJP issues a lookout notice against me but frauds like Nirav Modi, Vijay Malaya and others like them run away and they don’t do anything about them," the deputy CM said.
While participating in a debate on the motion of confidence moved by the Mahagathbandhan government, the deputy CM made statement on the floor of the house. During his speech, he also expressed displeasure over being called the owner of a mall in Gurgaon that was raided by the Central agency.
"Reports have appeared about raids on a Gurugram mall. Please do some research before saying anything about me. It belongs to someone who is based in Haryana and the most interesting part is that it was inaugurated by a BJP leader," he said.
Taking a dig at the BJP, he said, "It’s their set formula to either scare their opponents or buy them. People sitting in Delhi don’t know the people of Bihar. They cannot intimidate us by their design."
The Bihar deputy CM further said that his partnership with JD(U) is going to be never-ending. "I am a cricketer and we are going to play a long innings. We have come together for the development of Bihar and no one is getting run out this time," he said.
The agency had registered a preliminary enquiry related to the land-for-railway-jobs scam on September 23, 2021.
In the preliminary enquiry, the agency alleged that aspirants were given railway jobs in return for land during Lalu Yadav's tenure as railways minister. Prime properties in different cities, including Patna, were later taken over by several shell companies allegedly linked to Lalu’s family.
The transfers were made through three sale deeds in the names of Rabri Devi, Misa Bharti and two gift deeds in the name of Hema Yadav, the agency officials said.