PATNA: A key accused in Bihar’s Rs`1,000-crore Srijan scam, Mahesh Mandal, died during treatment in judicial custody at a hospital in Bhagalpur late on Sunday night, prompting his kin to accuse the state government of deliberate negligence in medical care and sparking protests by the opposition in the assembly on Monday.
Mahesh Mandal, a retired clerk at the district welfare department, was suffering from kidney failure. He was arrested on August 13, four days after the massive pilferage of government funds by non-governmental organisation (NGO), Srijan Vikas Sahyog Samiti, came to light.
Also the father of a local JD(U) leader, Mahesh Mandal was charged for working as a conduit between banks and the NGO in siphoning off hundreds of crores of government funds over several years. He had allegedly received `3 crore as commission from Srijan over the past 10 years.
“Mandal died of natural causes due to the failure of his kidneys. He was also suffering from severe sugar problems. He was shifted from jail to Mayaganj Hospital when his condition deteriorated on Sunday night,” said Ramanuj Kumar, jailer of Bhagalpur Central Jail.
Sources said Mandal had also required dialysis when he was interrogated by officials of the Economic Offences Wing of Bihar police. He was hospitalised and then arrested.
Prior to his arrest, he had regularly received renal dialysis at Mumbai’s Hinduja Hospital. When his condition worsened in jail on Friday night, he was provided dialysis at Mayaganj Hospital and was sent back to jail on Sunday morning, said sources.“He died because of deliberate negligence by the government towards his medical treatment,” said his brother Dinesh Mandal.
Opposition RJD leaders attacked the state government over Mahesh Mandal’s death, saying he could have spilled the beans of political involvement in the scam. “The first death has taken place in the Srijan mega scam. One of the 13 people arrested who has died was the father of a super-rich leader of Nitish Kumar’s party,” tweeted RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. Opposition leader in Assembly, Tejaswi Yadav, said Mandal’s death occurred in a “suspicious atmosphere” and that the Srijan scam is bigger than Madhya Pradesh’s Vyapam scam.
Sources said his Mahesh Mandal’s son Shiv Mandal, who is a district board member in Bhagalpur and JD(U) district youth wing president, had spent huge sums of money to ensure his victory in the last civic body polls. The assembly monsoon session which began on Monday resounded with protests by the RJD, which demanded a judicial probe by a retired Supreme Court judge.