Anti-corruption Activists Reach Delhi on Foot to Meet PM
Arunachal Against Corruption marched to New Delhi to seek a CBI investigation into corruption allegations
A group of 17 youth from Arunachal Pradesh have reached New Delhi by foot to protest against alleged 'corruption' in the state. They are demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry against Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu.
The group who call themselves Arunachal Against Corruption has accused Khandu of "mismanagement of about Rs 142 crores", apart from several other allegations of scams in various government schemes. The Chief Minister has denied all allegations.
Arunachal Against Corruption (AAC) initially began their protest in Itanagar in July. After a month-long protest, they set foot on their journey to Delhi in August, and reached the National Capital in September. Their intention was to reach the Prime Minister's Office and voice their concerns about corruption in their home state.
According to Birender Tallang, Convenor, AAC, "corruption in our own state has become intolerable. It has permeated to every nook and corner of our state. People who wish to get rid of corruption joined together and started a peaceful protest in July. We sat on dharna in the capital Itanagar for 28 days.
"We submitted our memorandum to the governor to take appropriate legal action. We were alleging that there is corruption in the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY) scheme of around Rs 68 crores. Under this scheme, the government of India provides benefits like food and employment to the underprivileged.
"However, the ground reality in our state is that none of these benefits reach the people. Further, under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) scheme, there is gross misappropriation of Rs 142 crores. The fund was allocated for rural electrification of different districts of our state.
"According to the guidelines, an online tender was to be brought in. But the department brought in an offline tender and the benefits were given to the kith and kin of the chief minister. In the process, fake bank guarantees were provided."
Birender added, "during the Panchayati Raj elections, the Chief Minister used his official power and withdrew about Rs 899 crores from the Panchayat exchequer and the funds were misappropriated."
The other main allegations include a scam of Rs 32 crores as state revenue or royalty under the Department of Mining and Minerals, a gross misuse of CAMPA funds worth around Rs 588 crores and a hydropower scam worth Rs 1400 crores along with Rs 820 crores liabilities."
According to the memorandum submitted to the governor of Arunachal Pradesh, several PILs have been filed before the Gauhati High Court with regard to these allegations. It also states that the court had already directed the state government in the mining scam, but the Special Investigation Cell, which is directly under the Chief Minister, took more than a year to register the case and is yet to take any of the accused into custody.
Birender added that the foot march hasn't been easy from the start as there were several attempts to prevent it. "When we started marching from Itanagar to Assam, the Arunachal government tried to bribe our executive members. They succeeded in bribing our ex-president, then the rest of us united and started our journey.
"We are trying to meet the PM and Bharatiya Janata Party President JP Nadda. We have requested an appointment. We already met with Kirren Rijiju. There are three MPs from our state, we're trying to meet the other two as well.
"Our aim is to create awareness about the fact that the benefits that are being provided by the central government are not put into practice within our state. The funds that are allocated for the underprivileged in our state are being misappropriated and used for the Chief Minister's kith and kin. He has about 12 farms and the funds are being used for that. We have demanded an inquiry into this."
The group is also demanding that the Chief Minister step down, the immediate arrest of officers involved in the scams, and that the case be handed over to the CBI for fair investigation.