Srijan scam accused dies in Bihar hospital

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Mahesh Mandal, one of the key accused arrested in the Rs 1,000-crore Srijan scam in Bihar's Bhagalpur district, has died in a hospital, police said on Monday. His sudden death has triggered a controversy, with opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) terming it a "murder" and his family alleging that he was denied dialysis deliberately by government officials which caused his death. Mandal's condition deteriorated and he died late on Sunday night at a hospital soon after being brought from the jail. Bhagalpur Senior Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar told IANS over telephone: "Mahesh Mandal was not keeping well since his arrest. He had some kidney problem." Raising questions over Mahesh Mandal's sudden demise, RJD leader and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Tejashwhi Yadav said it was a murder to eliminate him since he could have revealed many things related to the scam. Mandal's family members have blamed the local administration's "neglect" for his death. He was deliberately denied timely dialysis, alleged one of the family members Sonu Mandal. Bihar Police chief P.K. Thakur told the media that accused Mahesh Mandal died due to sugar and kidney problems. "It is a mysterious death. Is it going the Vyapam scam way in Madhya Pradesh, where one after the other accused and witnesses died," RJD Vice President Shivanand Tiwari said. He said this might have been done to suppress evidence and information that Mahesh Mandal could have revealed. The Srijan scam involves a Bhagalpur-based NGO, Srijan Mahila Vikas Sahyog Samiti Ltd, which used to provide vocational training to women. The NGO allegedly pilfered funds meant for government welfare schemes from the bank accounts of the Bhagalpur district administration. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on August 17 recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the scam, in line with the RJD's demand. According to Thakur, 11 FIRs have been lodged to date and 18 people arrested in connection with the scam.