Prove graft allegations, Hazare dares government (Second Lead)

August 15th, 2011 - 12:12 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) Terming the government’s allegations of corruption against him as “baseless and false”, social activist Anna Hazare Sunday dared it to start a probe against him and said he will continue his fast until the charges are proved wrong.

“The government has made false allegations against me. The government so far had targeted all members of the civil society, including Shanti and Prashant Bhushan, Justice Santosh Hegde and Arvind Kejriwal, but me. Today they have targeted me,” Hazare told reporters here.

“All the corruption charges against me are baseless. I will continue my protest till my name is cleared of the charges as per the Justice Sawant report (on the probe into trusts run by him),” said Hazare.

“I will fast against the government Lokpal Bill on Aug 16 at JPN (Jayaprakash Narayan) Park as scheduled. We will take the protest to the states. We are ready to court arrest and face the bullets,” he said.

The Congress Sunday targeted the 74-year-old activist, saying he was “neck deep in corruption” and had no right to talk about fighting corruption.

Hazare asked the government to conduct an inquiry against him following allegations by the Congress.

“They (government) are liars and I am challenging the government to register a police complaint against me and start an inquiry. I am not afraid of any inquiry. I have decided that I will continue my fast till the false allegations against me are proven wrong,” he said.

Hazare said that the Justice Sawant Commission had not pointed fingers at him.

He said the commission instead named the then ministers of the Maharashtra government against whom there were complaints.

Terming it as mud-slinging, Hazare said he had asked for an inquiry against four ministers and when one of them accused him of being corrupt he volunteered that his name be included in the list of people to be probed.

But no action has been taken so far, said Hazare.

He said eight chartered accountants had searched his offices in Maharashtra and taken away a mini-truck full of papers but they found nothing.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari made the corruption allegations against Hazare citing the Justice Sawant Commission report.

He said the commission had probed the four trusts Hazare was associated with, including Hind Swaraj Trust formed in 1995 for rural development.

Tewari claimed that the commission found that Hazare spent Rs.2.2 lakh from the trust for his birthday celebrations, which amounted to corruption.

Hazare countered the allegation and said the money spent on his birthday from one of the trusts he was associated with had been returned.

Announcing that they will make all accounts of the anti-graft protest public within 24 hours, Arvind Kejriwal, an associate of Hazare, dared the Congress to declare the list of party donors in the past five years.

He also denied the Congress allegation that they had received donations from a corporate.

Stating that he will not let the anti-graft protest lose its momentum, Hazare said this was a now-or-never moment for the country. He exhorted people to reach the venue of his fast Aug 16 and protest in a peaceful manner.

Hazare’s associate and former police officer Kiran Bedi said they apprehend that there might be an attempt to disrupt their peaceful protest in order to defame them.

“None of our supporters will break the law or cause any damage to public property,” said Bedi.

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