Akhilesh rubbishes allegations of protecting Khurshid

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Lucknow, Oct 16: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has rubbished allegations made by activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal that his government was protecting accused central minister Salman Khurshid as a quid pro quo arrangement to drop the disproportionate assets case against his father and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Akhilesh, who broke his silence hours after Kejriwal made his charges, said such allegations were unfair. He added that the alleged misuse of funds by Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust of Salman Khurshid and his wife Louise was conducted during the reign of the previous government led by Mayawati and it was only recently brought to his notice.

The SP leader also said that the economic offences wing (EOW) has been asked to conduct a probe and it was too early to arrive at any conclusion on the issue.

Akhilesh had ordered the EOW probe on Jul 3 but no action took place for almost three months. But after the media and Kejriwal's anti-corruption crusade took a firm stand on the issue, pressure was mounted on the probe agency and the government to investigate the Khurshids' alleged misappropriation of funds, the EOW deployed four teams across 17 districts of the state to verify the charges.

An RTI activist, Nutan Thakur, also filed a PIL in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Monday seeking registration of FIR and requesting the court to monitor the probe. The court is set to hear the plea on Wednesday.

Top state officials, however, said that Akhilesh knew about the alleged irregularities of the trust since May and an official had been sent to him wherein he was informed that over 30 government officials testified that they did not sign documents saying that disabled welfare camps were organised in their districts. They also said that no disabled-friendly appliances were provided to beneficiaries in 13 of the 17 districts where the trust works.

It was learnt from sources in the Chief Minister's office that Akhilesh was advised either to lodge FIRs in the 13 disputed districts against unknown people for faking signatures of government officials in the trust's interest or hand over the probe to an independent agency if he did not want to involve the state government into the politically sensitive matter that involved a central minister.

The CM asked the state home department to order an EOW probe. On Jul 3, the probe order was given and a report was sought within one month but the agency did not make any progress by Aug 3. The Chief Minister's office failed to speed up the proceedings owing to the political sensitivity, it was learnt.

Top state officials also said that the government did not send the compulsory 'test report', an independent assessment of an NGO's functioning by the state government, to the Centre owing to the anomalies.

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