Jharkhand CM assents to ACB investigation into t-shirt and toffee scam allegations against Raghubar Das government

Raghubar says he is ready for any investigation, claims a stage governed with transparency

Ranchi, February 3: The National Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) will now investigate irregularities in the distribution of T-shirts, sweets and toffees under the previous government of Raghubar Das.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren authorized the ACB investigation.

This irregularity is related to the celebrations of the Jharkhand State Foundation Day in 2016. During the main ceremony held on the occasion of the Jharkhand State Foundation Day in 2016, the issue of irregularities in the program of singer Sunidhi Chauhan and the distribution of T-shirts, sweets and caramels to children from different schools was highlighted.

In view of the complaints received about irregularities related to various aspects of this program, the Chief Minister has given authorization for an investigation by the CDA.

Incidentally, a public interest litigation is being heard in the High Court of Jharkhand regarding this irregularity.

Significantly, in June 2021, MP for Jamshedpur East Saryu Rai had written a letter to Chief Minister Hemant Soren asking CBI or ACB to investigate the caramel and t-shirt scam in 2016-17. He alleged that the caramel, t-shirt, song-music and decoration scam in 2016-17 is more serious than the Meinhart. All central characters of this scam are related to Jamshedpur.

Saryu Roy alleged that a printed T-shirt and a packet of caramels were purchased on the basis of no-bid nomination to be given to children attending Prabhat Pheri on the morning of the State Foundation Day celebrations of 2016 on the pretext of less time. The caramel was purchased from Lalla Enterprises in Sidgora, Jamshedpur and the T-shirt was purchased through Prakash Sharma of Kadma. A preliminary investigation revealed that in 2016-17, Lalla Enterprises neither bought nor sold a single caramel but received a check for Rs 35 lakh from the government as part of a conspiracy and charged (VAT) approx. Rs 4 lakh on it.

Meanwhile, the Commercial Tax Department imposed a fine of over Rs 17 lakh on Lalla Enterprises for concealing the sale of caramel.

The purchase of T-shirts worth Rs 5 crore was demonstrated by Kudu Fabrics of Ludhiana, but the Trade Tax Department of the Government of Jharkhand did not issue a circulation permit for it. The Commercial Tax Department is not informed whether such consignment of T-shirts came from Ludhiana to Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad by road or rail but the payment was made.

It is alleged that on November 15, 2016, a program of songs by singer Sunidhi Chauhan was kept for an hour between pre-scheduled entertainment programs. On November 9, 2016, in a meeting chaired by the then Chief Minister Raghubar Das, the Chief Minister’s official offered to call Sunidhi Chauhan, on which the expense of around Rs 44 lakh was mentioned . The proposal was accepted, but the total payment turned out to be more than Rs 55 lakh.

Let us inform that on the occasion of the 17th day of the founding of Jharkhand, under the tenure of the then Chief Minister, Raghubar Das, t-shirts worth 3.5 crores and toffees worth worth 35 lakhs was distributed in one day. After which, RTI activist Pankaj Yadav branded as suspicious the case of distribution of T-shirts and candies by Raghubar government in the name of foundation day and said it was a well-planned scam. He had filed a public interest complaint requesting an investigation into the matter.

Meanwhile, Raghubar Das said he was ready for any investigation by any agency and ruled the state with transparency and claimed that his allegation against the Hemant Soren government could have led the government to order such an investigation.

Elizabeth J. Harless