Crackdown time

Transparent and time-bound investigations needed.

Anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal and his co-activists, who are on a scandal–busting spree, have made the most explosive disclosure so far of illegal black money transactions involving individuals, companies and a multinational bank which acted as a facilitator. The allegations, based on information contained in a compact disc sent by the French government to the Government of India in June 2011 that around 700 people had clandestinely deposited over  Rs 6,000 crore in the Geneva branch of HSBC bank, though elicited some pro forma denials, have virtually been confirmed by the government. These allegations are obviously a tip of the iceberg, but the fact that the finance ministry says that “the investigations in the matter are under progress,” and “appropriate action is being taken,” is a shocking admission of the casualness and callousness with which the UPA government is dealing with an issue of humongous economic fraud and indeed, of national security.

Some people have accused Kejriwal of indulging in hit-and-run series of allegations, as in the last one month, he has targeted Sonia Gandhi’s son-in law Robert Vadra, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, BJP president Nitin Gadkari and the Reliance Group led by Mukesh Ambani, before the present  disclosure, but he and his team should be congratulated for their meticulous work. Any responsible government would take the matter seriously,  swiftly bring the culprits to book and restore people’s faith in democracy.

As admitted by Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde black money is playing havoc with the country’s economy and security as the government already has “information” that certain terror groups operating in India and abroad were into money laundering and terror financing and even investing in stock markets. The estimates of black money stashed in safe havens abroad have ranged from $ 2 billion to $ 3 trillion and considering the consequences of their free circulation for the country, the government should immediately launch a massive crackdown on them. The Supreme Court which had issued a direction to the Centre over a year ago to constitute a special investigation team to go into the black money issue, should also immediately press the Union government to conduct investigations in a transparent and time-bound manner so that the rule of law prevails and the nation’s security is not compromised.

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