Lalu Prasad Yadav
File photo of Lalu Prasad Yadav | Parwaz Khan HT via Getty Images
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People ask me: Was I not afraid for my career and the security of my family? Some even commented that the state police would implicate me in these cases.

It was a cold winter morning on 27 January, 1996 when I raided the Chaibasa Treasury, and the offices and farms of the animal husbandry department located in a corner of the old British Raj building and started verifying the bills of the department. To my horror, practically all of them were of the same amount (Rs 9.9 lakh), of the same supplier and all of which prima facie appeared to be bogus.

By the time I called the district animal husbandry officer (DAHO) and his subordinates to seek their explanation; I was told that they had all run away from their offices. I then decided to personally visit the office of DAHO along with my magistrates. I was shocked to find cash, bank drafts and a large number of fake Treasury Bills littered all over, making it quite apparent that they had fled in a hurry. By 12 noon, I had asked my magistrates to start sealing the offices of the animal husbandry department, ordered the State Bank of India’s Treasury Branch to stop all payments of animal husbandry and alerted all police stations to ensure that records are kept safely so that the wrongdoers do not get an opportunity to destroy them.

Finally, after cross-verifying with the Accountant General’s office and the state finance department, it was clear that the amounts withdrawn from the treasury were even more than the states’ total budget for the department, I lodged the first FIR in the series of cases which were later described by many as ‘fodder scam’.

Another verdict came on Saturday in the fodder scam involving fraudulent withdrawal of government moneys from Deoghar Treasury. And I watch all the TV screens flash the ‘Breaking News’.

Reams of pages have been written about how the fraudulent bills were made by the suppliers with the collusion of state officials, how cash and bank drafts were recovered by the teams who had raided the offices and how the entire administrative and financial systems were subverted by those very people who were supposed to be its protector. All this was done in the name of supply of fodder to animals in practically all the districts of what was then south Bihar.

People ask me: Was I not afraid for my career and the security of my family? Some even commented that the state police would implicate me in these cases.

To be honest, none of these thoughts came to my mind when I began. When I was student of IIM Ahmedabad, one of my teachers (Prof. Kuchhal) use to say “too much of analysis leads to decision paralysis”. I am glad I did not waste my time thinking of my career or of my family, or of my future. Otherwise, I would not have been able to take the decision of starting the inquiry into fodder scam.

Then why did I do it? The answer is that most of us joined the civil services as a career with a dream of making a new India. And as deputy commissioner, who is the administrative head of the district, it was my duty.

But I didn’t do all this alone. There was an alert Hindi and English language press who immediately flashed the story not only in the state but all over India. Of course, I did later become some sort of a local hero, in because of the press coverage.

But there were many “unsung” heroes. Lal Shyama Charan Nath Sahdeo, the additional deputy commissioner meticulously checked the accounts of the entire treasury; V.S. Deshmukh, the superintendent of police who immediately alerted all the police stations and made security arrangements so that evidence was not destroyed; the Sadar SDO, Fidelis Toppo and the second officer Binod Chandra Jha, who were instrumental in sealing the offices & farms of the animal husbandry department; and the large number of blockdDevelopment officers and circle officers who ensured that the material evidence was properly collected and secured. Most of these officers were from the state services. Many were willing to take the “risk” for a better state of affairs.

But this leads me to my last question. These officers were all there even before I became the deputy commissioner. Why were they silent earlier? Perhaps when the subordinate officers saw that their DC was willing to risk his career (and may be also his life), they found a moral calling to bring out the truth.

Many years ago, when I was a young SDO in the tribal Latehar area, Baba Amte had come during his Bharat Jodo Yatra and had said “Jo nek hain wah anek hain, unhe ek banene ki jaroorat hai” (there are many honest people, they just need to come together).

If you bring them on a common platform and build upon their latent goodness, it would perhaps be the beginning of a New India.

Amit Khare is presently Development Commissioner, Jharkhand

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18 Comments Share Your Views

18 COMMENTS

  1. Dear sir,
    Please introspect….it’s never too late to atone…you’ve escaped being an accused, you’ve escaped being suspended…isn’t that good fortune enough….perhaps not…but one can’t dodge one’s conscience, can one?

  2. Its good to see that you refer to IIM Ahmedabad on various occasions…i am a current student in IIM Ahmedabad and one of the learnings has been to be honest, authentic and then only we can be legitimate..as you would now, these values are part of many courses on leadership, value and ethics we have here in this esteemed institution.

    In self praise and in the rush to take credit, are you forgetting names of some other people who were behind all the hard work, who maybe “directed” you to do this…case study certainily suggests that truth lies elsewhere….maybe some credit to these people were also due….please think over it…

  3. Folks certainly a brave act by honest civil services of India and State of Bihar. Commendable indeed! But isn’t this what their job is? Isn’t this the role of every Indian citizen? Didn’t all of our elders and some of us, in our own way, battled for against the British Raj?

    Kudos to all who put the State of Bihar and India ahead of their own personal interest. In reality the current state of affairs are not any better. Many of the civil servants and the Indian citizens are also participant in the corrupt practices in the Indian Society. Face it good, bad, or ugly this is reality!

    Some folks have commented on the lines of who is what (Marathi…). What a shame! Had faced these kind of divisive issues all my life growing up in Calcutta, Delhi, and Bombay (yes that’s what they were called when I left India!) and it’s disheartening to experience and see the same when I visit India.

    India is certainly doing well and wish it keeps going in the positive direction. Somethings must be right about India and it’s citizens! Kudos to you all!

  4. Qudos to Mr Amit Khare for his apt action on smelling rat in the scam. This is how young India need to care for the country. I wish him all the best.

  5. Dear sir

    Can you please tell us what are the actual acts on the part of Lalu prasad जी which has caused his punishment?

    What was recovered from him? Even in previous judgment, there was nothing on record against him except theory of conspiracy and linkages of flight tickets?

    And how much money till now government has been able to recover from all accused, and especially Lalu Prasad?

    Thanks

  6. One question remains, why people watch all this silently and be equal part of wrong doing despite no additional gains. However, their gains remain to be in job.
    Could there be build-in mechanism to open up such pindora boxes in early stages?
    Quite sad state of affairs, this still exists/ prevails.

    To me, DIGITAL INDIA is the answer by building checks & balances, analytics, intelligence, and proactive reporting + reviews, alerts, …

    People, directly/ indirectly, involved needs to be exposed + punished in time-bound manner + …

  7. It is truly inspiring for the masses from a hero like mr Amit share.
    Hope such heroes establish much needed credibility in bureaucracy.

  8. Khare & Dehmukh are Maharashrian surname.I am very proud of Maharashtrians because of long stint with them & happened to tour extensively almost each district of Maharashtra, Gujarat & Goa Daman & Diu.

  9. #आज का पहाड़ा# लालू एकम्–गुरुघंटाल।लालू दूनी–महा बवाल ।लालू तिया–लघु परिवार।लालू चौके–मरा बिहार।लालू पंजे–दूध डेयरी।लालू छके–लस्सी ,राबड़ी।लालू सत्ते–चारा कांडम्।लालू अट्ठे–फूटा भांडम्।लालू निया–बिगड़ा खेल।लालू दहाम –सेंट्रल जेल। रचयिता–सुरेंद्र तिवारी,बिलासपुर,छत्तीसगढ़

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