By Ashima Gujral:
A few days ago, on a boring weekend afternoon, I switched on the television to entertain myself only to be greeted by a lot of shouting on the several news channels. As I lowered the volume and paid attention to the scenario before me, it was the country’s law minister, Salman Khurshid holding a press conference and giving clarifications on the recent allegations on him which entailed the misuse of the money granted to his trust which was meant to be used for supplying appliances to the disabled.
Uninterested in this entire episode, I started surfing channels to find something more suitable but every second channel was showing the same live-telecast of the press conference. And then I decided to sit and watch the man produce alibis in favour of his case. And surprisingly, I was impressed by the multitude and magnitude of evidences he had in order to prove his innocence. And I was then forced to dwell deeper into the matter to satisfy my highly curious self.
As I read through the various articles and watched the videos on the internet, I found out that the entire episode started with allegations made by Arvind Kejriwal, a social activist, who was visited by some thirty-five to forty disabled people at his office. Simultaneously, the India Today Network’s famous Hindi news channel, Aaj Tak carried out a story whereby they alleged that an NGO, namely, Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, which is headed by Khurshid with his wife as the project director, was given an amount of Rs 71.50 lakhs for distributing tricycles and hearing aids to the disabled in seventeen districts of Uttar Pradesh. The channel claimed that the camps were not held and the equipments never reached their destination.
Khurshid, who was ironically in the United Kingdom at that time, giving a lecture in his alma mater, Oxford University, had to go through a lot of public embarrassment and humiliation when he was questioned about the same. The result was that as soon as he came back to India, he held an hour-long press conference to show the evidences of the camps being held. He conducted the press conference in a true lawyer’s fashion, laying down the rules of the games right in the beginning and bringing in an ocean of witnesses and evidences. Not just that, he also slammed a defamation case against the India Today group for the humiliation he had to face.
I believe the case is more between the India Today group and Salman Khurshid and Arvind Kejriwal is only a side player who is trying to garner public support and asking for Khurshid’s immediate resignation and a probe into the entire matter, thereby fulfilling his duty of being a social activist. Cases of scams are not at all new to the ears but an amusing and disgusting fact was that of a Congress minister’s defending statement for Khurshid, where he said that 71 lakhs is too petty an amount for a union minister to fiddle with. The matter has now gone to the Delhi High Court and hopefully the hearing will soon be held.
What I gathered by the apparent views from both the sides was that the news channel only ran a source story based on an affidavit, whose authenticity is still in question while Khurshid brought in pictures, reports, witnesses and everything else under the sun to prove his case. Thus, for now giving the benefit of doubt to Salman Khurshid, I would like to wait for the rebuttal of the India Today group. Because Khurshid has defended himself well, at least in my eyes and I would now like to see how the group manages to keep its reputation alive. In any case, the truth must prevail.