India’s Most Privileged ‘Prisoner’: Convicted Scamster Lalu Yadav Enjoys An Envious Lifestyle In A Bungalow, Courtesy Jharkhand’s Congress Government

India’s Most Privileged ‘Prisoner’: Convicted Scamster Lalu Yadav Enjoys An Envious Lifestyle In A Bungalow, Courtesy Jharkhand’s Congress GovernmentFodder scam convict Lalu Yadav.
Snapshot
  • Prison rules and regulations have been violated to keep Lalu Yadav in luxurious comfort.

Former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, who has been found guilty and convicted in the infamous fodder scam, is the most privileged ‘prisoner’ in India.

In fact, he is a ‘prisoner’ in name only since he is lodged in the posh Kelly’s Bungalow, the official residence of the state-run Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS).

The five-bedroom bungalow — Yadav occupies the 320 square feet ensuite master bedroom — set amidst acres of greenery in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi, has been the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) founder’s abode since August 5 this year.

After being convicted by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ranchi on 23 December, 2017, in the second fodder scam case, Yadav was lodged in the Birsa Munda Central Jail.

Yadav’s doctors reported health complications following which he was shifted to RIMS on 29 August, 2018, and lodged in a paying ward there.

The former Bihar chief minister is said to be suffering from chronic hypertension, diabetes, heart and kidney ailments.

After RIMS was designated as a medical facility for treating Covid-19 patients, he was shifted to Kelly’s Bungalow on 5 August this year. The bungalow was unoccupied at that time since RIMS did not have a full-time director.

Subsequently, Dr Kameshwar Prasad was appointed director of RIMS, but he was put up in one room of the state guesthouse while Yadav continued to enjoy his stay at the bungalow.

According to media reports, Yadav receives and entertains visitors, including senior leaders of the RJD, at the bungalow regularly. Many of his guests even stay over at the bungalow.

Yadav has many servants and attendants at his beck and call and his meals are specially prepared in the modern kitchen of the bungalow.

RIMS officials have revealed that the bungalow has undergone a fair bit of refurbishment at Yadav’s request. The Jharkhand government has been footing the bill for Yadav’s stay and his entertainment at the bungalow.

At least a hundred meals — for Lalu’s entire entourage and his visitors and guests — are reportedly prepared everyday at the bungalow. The meals are said to be lavish affairs and it is alleged that very often, alcohol is also served to guests.

In early September this year, magistrates swooped down on the bungalow to put a stop to Yadav’s ‘election durbars’ (read this).

“The bungalow had become the RJD headquarters and despite the action taken by the prison authorities and the district administration, the practice of free entry of visitors to the bungalow continues,” said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Jharkhand spokesperson Pradeep Sinha.

The BJP and ally Janata Dal (United) have been complaining against this VIP treatment enjoyed by Yadav in complete violation of prison protocol.

Numerous media reports have detailed how visitors have completely free access to Yadav and how he has unrestricted freedom to communicate with anyone he wishes over cellphone.

Yadav has, reportedly, even been holding video conferences with his party leaders and family members from the bungalow.

Incidentally, Yadav is now the longest-admitted patient in RIMS. “He lives normally like a healthy person and only when there is talk of his returning to prison that his doctors and lawyers paint him as a patient with severe medical complications,” said Sinha.

The BJP and JD(U) have accused the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in Jharkhand (of which the RJD is a constituent) of violating all rules and regulations to favour Yadav and keep him in luxurious comfort.

The extent of the mockery that Yadav has made of the laws of the land came to light on Wednesday (November 25) when BJP leader and former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Modi posted a recording of a call made by Yadav to a newly-elected BJP legislator.

In the video clip, Yadav is heard telling the MLA, Lalan Kumar, to support the RJD candidate for the Speaker’s post. When Kumar tells Yadav that he is bound by party discipline and cannot do so, Yadav asks him to abstain from voting or stay away from the assembly.

Yadav also tells Kumar that the BJP-JD(U) government will fall soon and the RJD-led UPA in Bihar will come to power. “We will make you a minister then,” promises Yadav.

Unfortunately for Yadav, Kumar was at that time with Sushil Modi and told the latter about Yadav’s call to him. Modi says he called Yadav back at the number (8051216302) and told the former chief minister not to “try such tricks’ and that all his attempts to topple the NDA government would be futile.

Interestingly, the number is not reachable now and Truecaller app reveals it is registered under the name of ‘Irfan Lalu Yadav’. RJD sources say Irfan is a close aide of Lalu Yadav and the number is used to receive or make calls on Lalu Yadav’s behalf.

This incident has caused outrage in Bihar and Jharkhand. The BJP and JD(U) have demanded that Yadav not only be shifted out of Kelly’s Bungalow immediately and lodged in the Birsa Munda prison, but also kept under strict surveillance so that he does not have access to any communication devices.

“Lalu Yadav is a convicted criminal and has to be treated like a criminal. He is not entitled to any special privileges and his stay at Kelly’s Bungalow, the access that his party men and journalists have to him and the facilities like unrestricted access to communication devices that he enjoys are completely illegal,” said Sushil Modi.

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishore Prasad has demanded a probe by the Jharkhand government and warned that the Bihar government may request the Centre for a CBI probe if the Jharkhand government fails to act against Yadav.

The Jharkhand IG (Prisons) has instituted an enquiry into the incident (Yadav’s call to the BJP MLA).

Jharkhand BJP leader Babulal Marandi said he will approach the Jharkhand High Court praying for criminal proceedings against Yadav for violating the law.

Lalu Yadav’s blatant disregard of the law may lead to more troubles for him now.

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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