CPI(ML) Unearths A Major Scam by An RJD Minister

The Food and Supplies Department of the Government of Bihar runs many schemes including the Red Card (PDS) Scheme for people below the poverty line. The practice of rampant corruption and loot in the implementation of these schemes is not an unknown phenomenon. But recently, when a CPI(ML) leader Dayanand Dwivedi took the trouble to file a public interest litigation (PIL) CWJC No. 16418/2001 in the Patna High Court for an investigation into such practices the concerned RJD minister Purnamasi Ram revealed his ugly face. Because, consequent to this, under the orders of the High Court, Vice President of the Khet Mazdoor Sabha Nandji Ram filed a case in the Bagaha Court (Complaint No. 194 C/2002) praying the Court to investigate the Rs. 6100 crore scam in the Food and Civil Supplies Department of the Government of Bihar, in which 11 persons, including the minister Purnamasi Ram, have been named as accused.

Baffled at this attempt to pin him down in one of the biggest corruption cases, the minister got Dayanand Dwivedi abducted, brutally assaulted him in captivity and got him implicated in several false cases, for which he was immediately sent to jail. When a journalist Ranjan Verma (of Patna edition of the Hindi newspaper Hindustan) brought this incident to light, the minister himself went to his house and threatened to kill him.

An investigation team comprising Comrades Ram Naresh Ram, member of Polit Bureau and leader of CPI(ML) Legislature Group, Rameshwar Prasad, ex-MP and General Secretary of Bihar Pradesh Khet Mazdoor Sabha, Virendra Gupta, Party Incharge of West and East Champaran districts and Nandji Ram, Vice President of Bihar Pradesh Khet Mazdoor Sabha went to Bagaha on April 15 and found that:

(1) When the team went to meet Dayanand Dwivedi lodged in Bagaha Sub Jail, the Jailer did now allow them to meet Dayanand and even he himself did not meet the team, although Comrade Ram Naresh Ram asked for it in writing on his MLA pad. When Comrade Ram Naresh indicated that it was a matter of Privilege, the Jail administration conveyed it through the son of Dayanand Dwivedi, Dhananjay, that in case the honourable MLA persisted, Dayanand would be put to solitary confinement and tortured by other means. This was an indication that Bagaha Jail had become an instrument in the hands of the minister to oppress those who dared to oppose his misdeeds.

(2) The team was informed by the father of Dayanand Dwivedi that the minister, along with armed bodyguards and other armed goons, came in a gypsy escorted by motor cycles to his house on April 8 at 1 p.m. in the noon when his son was in the study. They asked Dayanand to come out, and on his polite refusal, was dragged out, thrashed and thrown into the gypsy. When Dayanand’s father came out and intervened, one Jhotil Paswan, a strongman of the minister, pushed him to the floor. The same was the fate of Dwivedi’s son, Dhananajay, who also came to rescue his father. All this happened before the eyes of hundreds of people assembled there but no one dared to intervene. Dayanad Dwivedi was taken to the PWD inspection bungalow in front of the SDM’s residence and beaten brutally there. Dhananjay and another ML activist Pradyumna Chauhan heard his cries for help and approached the SP and DSP, whose residences lie within 100 meters from the inspection bungalow. But the police did not intervene. After much delay, the police reached there and a false case was filed by Jhotil Paswan against Dayanand Dwivedi under Harijan Act and he was sent to jail. It is to be noted that Jhotil Paswan’s wife is a dealer under PDS. On the other hand, under public pressure a very mild case of quarrel was registered against the minister’s goons on Dayanand’s complaint. The police did everything on the minister’s bidding.

(3) In the course of investigation, the team met Suresh Ram, who was the BJP candidate in the last elections. He complained that the minister had almost finished him off, and he has his limbs impaired till date, but the police did not register his FIR. Other people said that the minister was involved in a number of murder cases, including that of the erstwhile legislator Triloki Ram and three Tharu people who were conducting propaganda against him in the elections. They said that the minister had established a reign of terror in this area and all his political opponents had met with a similar fate.

(4) It came to the notice of the team that a market is being constructed near Bagaha Subdivision Chowk on half an acre, which belongs to the minister. He owns petrol pumps at Ramnagar and Lauriya, a 65-acre land plot at Susta near Indo-Nepal border, and around 100 acres of land elsewhere. Originally a tractor operator, Purnamasi Ram first became a dealer of PDS, and then within just 10-15 years he has become a millionaire.

(5) It has also appeared in the press that he had treated his own daughter and her husband brutally. The villagers told that his eldest daughter Rambha and her husband resided in Rampurwa village, and their land was washed away by the river when it changed its course. The minister asked them to take shelter on some plot usurped in the name of local office of the RJD. Later he wanted to build a market there and asked his daughter to quit the place. When she did not comply, the minister got them brutally beaten and evicted by force.

(6) The team met the journalist Ranjan Verma’s wife, who is the principal at Daffodils Academy. According to her, the minister came to her house before going to Dayanand’s, and hurled the choicest abuses on her. He threatened that if Ranjan did not stop writing against him, he would have to quit this world. The wife was terrified to think what would have happened to Ranjan had he been present, and informed that he had to stay out of Bagaha in apprehension of attack. She herself was too afraid to go out.

(7) The team found that no advocate in Bagaha Court was willing to look after the case related to the scam. The old lawyer of Dwivedi refused to fight this case. Somehow one advocate, Nurul Huda has agreed to plead, but pressure has started mounting on him from all sides. The team also found that the lives of Maaley leader Nandji Ram, the neighbour of Dwivedi Jhakkar Sah and other ML activists were under threat. The witnesses in the case filed by Nandji Ram on April 3 were being pressurized by the minister not to appear in the Court or to retract their testimony.

Most of these things have come out in local newspapers and now this biggest ever scam by Purnamasi Ram is the talk of not only the town but of the state. On April 8, following the abduction and arrest of Dayanand Dwivedi, CPI(ML) launched a road blockade at Malakauli on Bagaha-Valmikinagar road and demanded the arrest of the minister. The blockade was lifted on the next day only after local administration and police intervened and received a Party delegation. Another FIR against the minister and his goons was lodged with the police. Champaran Bandh call given by the Party on April 11 was totally successful with full support of common people. Local journalists met the DM on April 9 and gave him a memorandum, addressed to the Governor, demanding security to Ranjan Verma. The Party has already said that it is prepared to go to the Supreme Court to pursue the case against the corrupt minister.

In view of these findings, the investigation team has demanded that (1) the investigation into the scam in Food and Civil Supplies be handed over to CBI; (2) Minister Purnamasi Ram be sacked and arrested immediately; (3) Maley leader Dayanand Dwivedi be released immediately and false cases against him be withdrawn; and (4) CBI should investigate into the amassing of movable and immovable properties by Purnamasi Ram.

The Party has also planned a sustained movement on this issue starting with block-level demonstration all over Bihar by the Bihar Agricultural Labour Union and build up a movement to the level of Bihar bandh to expose the government whose ministers loot the money destined for people below the poverty line.

Tailpiece: According to a Times News Network despatch on April 17, 2002, the Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Purnamasi Ram has demanded a ban on the CPI(ML)-Liberation. He accused the Liberation of “joining hands with Nepalese Maoists and also trying to create disturbances in the Bagaha region”. While talking to reporters he said a motivated campaign has been launched against him with the blessing of “feudal elements and the sugar lobby” because his son and brother were contesting the municipal elections. “The CPI(ML) is trying to create violence in the region. It is not a political party, but an extremist outfit. I demand a ban on it,” he said. Ram insisted that he as minister had nothing to do with the distribution of foodgrain. He, however, conceded that his orders for a probe into the distribution of material had been ignored. “I am ready to face a probe into the matter by any agency – the CBI or the judicial one,” he insisted, and charged local media persons of Bagaha with indulging in yellow journalism. After swallowing fodder and foodgrains, the voracious Bihar ministers want to eat up democracy, too! Well, Mr.Purnamasi, the people of Bihar are in no mood to let that happen.

– BB Pandey