NGO scam: Kejriwal firm on Khurshid's resignation, to protest outside PM's residence

Last Updated: Fri, Oct 12, 2012 06:12 hrs

New Delhi: India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Arvind Kejriwal will lead a protest march to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's official 7, Race Course Road residence here on Friday demanding Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid's resignation over allegations that an NGO headed by him and run by his wife siphoned off lakhs of rupees meant for physically challenged people.

According to reports, a group of differently-abled people are likely to participate in this protest march led by Kejriwal.

The activist-turned-politician had earlier on Wednesday demanded Salman Khurshid's resignation and his wife Louise Khurshid's immediate arrest after a TV channel reported that a trust owned by the couple forged signatures and stamps of senior officials of several districts in Uttar Pradesh depriving physically challenged people of their due.

"It was exposed by one of the TV channels how Law Minister Salman Khurshid and his wife are involved in defalcation of funds meant for handicapped people. These funds are released by various departments of Government of India," said Kejriwal told mediapersons in Kaushambi, Uttar Pradesh.

"They were taken by the NGO, which has been floated by the Law Minister and his wife. And rather than distributing this money to the handicapped people, the Law Minister and his wife together have forged the signatures of several government officers which is a very serious crime," he added.

Asserting that it is a non-bailable offence and a cognizable offence under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Kejriwal demanded that an FIR should be immediately registered in connection with this case.

"Mrs Khurshid should be immediately arrested because if she remains outside she would tamper with the evidence and put pressure on various evidences. And the Law Minister should immediately resign," he said.

A livid Khurshid, however, told a leading news channel in London earlier that he would take legal action against Arvind Kejriwal and Hindi TV channel Aaj Tak in connection with the concerned matter.

The Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, headed by Salman Khurshid, has come under the scanner after a TV channel exposed a scam to the tune of Rs 71 lakh.

According to Aaj Tak report, the Union Ministry for Social Welfare and Empowerment had granted Rs 71.50 lakh to the trust for distributing tricycles and hearing aids to the disabled in 17 districts of U.P.

While, Salman Khurshid is the president of the Trust, his wife Louise Khurshid is the project director.

As per the rules, the trust should have informed the district magistrate, the district social welfare officers prepares and send a list of beneficiaries from districts and the money is disbursed at the camps organized for this purpose, in the presence of district officials.

But reports state that the Trust distributed the equipments under the forged signatures of district welfare officers and the camps were never held.

The Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust is registered at Khurshid's residence in the national capital (4, Gulmohar Avenue, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi) and the minister's wife - Louise Khurshid, who happens to be a former MLA - is its chief functionary officer.

The trust is registered as an NGO and has been operating in many states and receiving substantial grants from several important ministries of the government of India.

The report states that the Union ministry for social welfare and empowerment had been hinted about this in May 2011, but no one sought an inquiry.

Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has, for the time being, stopped fresh grants to the trust, as Khurshid's family was yet to reply to the clarifications sought by it on the alleged malpractices.

According to reports, documents in possession of Aaj Tak reveal that a statewide enquiry into these malpractices in a project piloted by the trust was ordered by the UP government on January 12, 2012 following a letter from the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

The project relates to providing aids to physically challenged people in 17 districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Khurshid's hometown Farrukhabad. (ANI)

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