Khurshid refutes NGO scam charge

Welcomes probe, refuses to quit

Khurshid refutes NGO scam charge

Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid and his wife, Louise, on Sunday refuted charges
that they had misappropriated funds of a non-governmental organisation
managed by them, at a press conference marked by heated exchanges.

They produced documents and pictures to claim that the trust run by them had distributed instruments to handicapped people. Though showing willingness to be probed, the minister indicated no intention to resign.

In a two-hour press conference which at times turned out to be a slanging match between Khurshid and representatives of a TV channel,  the minister declared that he would file defamation cases in India and the UK against the channel that aired a sting operation against the trust headed by him.

When asked if he would resign in the light of the expose, he said it was for the party and the government to take a decision. Khurshid said he would apprise Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the issue.

Khurshid claimed that the Uttar Pradesh government, at his behest, was already probing whether an affidavit signed by government official J B Singh carried forged signatures as alleged.

He said the report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) “is only a draft.” The CAG has given the report because it does not receive documents.  But, the CAG has shown its readiness to have related documents.

Khurshid showed photographs of J B Singh being present in a camp at Mainpuri where instruments to the handicapped people were distributed. Singh was cited by the channel as saying that his signature on an affidavit about the organisation of camps by the trust was forged.

The minister, who arrived on Sunday from the UK, refused to join issue with India Against Corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal, but he targeted the news channel for telecasting the report on the alleged misappropriation of funds and forging of signatures by the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust headed by him.

Khurshid produced documents, including purchase orders issued by hospitals in Uttar Pradesh and certificates from district magistrates. He also produced the utilisation certificate, which showed that his trust spent over Rs 77 lakh, including Rs 71.5 lakh received from the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, on welfare programmes in 17 districts in Uttar Pradesh.

The charged atmosphere of the press conference reached its climax when Khurshid and his wife produced beneficiary Rangee Mistry, who had been shown by the channel as saying that he did not receive any instruments. Mistry said he said so in the hope to get one more hearing aid as his instrument “does not work properly.”

Continuing his dharna at Jantar Mantar, Kejriwal, who had posed five questions to the law minister, rejected Khurshid’s claim of innocence and reiterated the demand for his resignation.

He alleged that the UP government had already probed the charges. A fresh investigation by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav “is only to give a clean chit to Khurshid,” he said.

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