Lost Records, Lost land

The Bihar Government, ostensibly known for its good governance, has no record of 300 acres of land in the Motihari District Archives. Nobody knows where the records of this land have gone. The administration is clueless about this matter. The loss of these records indicates a big game by the land mafia. The ownership of this land worth billions of rupees cannot be determined without the records. The concerned officials are not ready to divulge any information. The Right to Information (RTI) application filed in this respect was dilly-dallied upon. This has created further doubt in the matter. Experts have said that the biggest scam in the government treasury in the late 1930s took place in erstwhile Bettiah State under West Champaran. In that scam, land belonging to five imprisoned persons was attached and sold. The money was deposited in the government treasury. This scam of 1937-38 was tried in the District Court of Muzaffarpur. Those imprisoned were the employees in the District Treasury, and had purchased the land with three lakh rupees withdrawn illegally from the treasury. At that time after the interference of the Bettiah state which was under the Court of Wards of the British Empire, a case (No. 240/37-38) was registered against the accused and their land was sold to get back the money that belonged to the government. The land which is estimated to be around 300 acres was auctioned by the Bettiah State. After the auction this land was registered in the name of various buyers by the Bettiah State. During the British rule these proceedings were quite a big thing in the country. In Bihar this was the first scam in the government treasury. All the records of the proceedings were kept in the archives. There were only two archives in Champaran at that time, just as now. The first one is the Bettiah State Archives and the other one is the Motihari Archives. It is said that the land mafia have got the documents from the archives, and are claiming ownership over the land. A part of the total land lies at Bank Road in Motihari, at Khodanagar, Dharm Samaj Road, LIC office, Nursery, Mathia, Pataura, Bangri, Sikta, Motihari Main Road and at a few other places. The details of these plots were sought through an RTI application, but the Bihar government and Patna Grand Archives just ordered the Bettiah and Motihari Archives to look into the matter. The certificates of the auctioned land were also asked for in the RTI application, but no reply was forthcoming. Records and archives are the property of the state and the country. The government spends large sums of money to look after these archives. The district administration should make sure that those who are involved in bungling of the government documents should be arrested, and a case of treason should be registered against them. The loss of government records is a serious matter, and thousands of people in the district need the documents.
If we look at the procedure of getting an original copy from the archives in Motihari and Bettiah then bribes are fixed for all those involved in the record keeping. If the records are important then there is no limit for the bribes. The procedure to look for the documents is also very costly. Many lists are missing from the record registers of Motihari Archives. The legal documents from the Bettiah Cutcherry are also being sold to unscrupulous elements. When asked about the matter, the Upper Collector of the Records Room, Pramod Kumar Bihari, refused to comment. He promised to look into the matter once the queries were silently passed on to him. Rai Sunder Dev Sharma, a farmer who was an active member of Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement, said that the Records Room has become a centre of corruption. Rashtriya Janata Dal’s District President, Baccha Prasad Yadav, its Youth Wing’s District President Ehtesham Hussein and others have said that this is a serious matter and the administration should look into this.


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