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Suspected Rebels Kill 24 in Attack on India Congress Leaders.

NEW DELHI — Officials reacted with outrage Sunday to an audacious attack by about 200 suspected Maoist rebels who set off a roadside bomb and opened fire on a convoy carrying Indian ruling Congress party leaders and members in an eastern state, killing at least 24 people and wounding 37 others.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, accompanied by party President Sonia Gandhi, visited the injured in a hospital in the Chhattisgarh state capital and said the government would take firm action against the perpetrators.

“We are devastated,” said Gandhi, who denounced what she called a “dastardly attack” on the country’s democratic values.

Rajnath Singh, president of the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, said the country should unite in its fight against the Maoist insurgency.

The convoy was attacked Saturday in a densely forested area about 215 miles south of Raipur, Chhattisgarh’s capital, as the Congress members were returning from a party rally.

Four state party leaders and eight police officers were among those killed. Other victims were party supporters.

Police initially reported that 28 people were killed, but they later changed the death toll to 24. It was not clear why it had been revised.

Police officer R.K. Vij said 11 of the 37 injured were in serious condition.

Police identified one of those dead as Mahendra Karma, a Congress party leader in Chhattisgarh who founded a local militia, the Salwa Judum, to combat the Maoist rebels. The anti-rebel militia had to be reined in after it was accused of atrocities against tribals — indigenous people at the bottom of India’s rigid social ladder.

The dead also included state Congress party chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son. The injured included former federal minister Vidya Charan Shukla, 83, police said.

The Press Trust of India news agency said the attackers blocked the road by felling trees, forcing the convoy to halt. Vij said the suspected rebels triggered a land mine that blew up one of the cars. The attackers then fired at the Congress party leaders and their supporters before fleeing.

Congress is the main opposition party in the state. It has stepped up political activities, trying to win the support of tribals, ahead of state elections scheduled to be held by December.

K.P.S. Gill, a former police chief of Punjab state who has written widely on reform, said the attack was “a very horrifying incident.”

However, Gill said the state government was incapable of devising a strategy to tackle the Maoist threat. “They don’t have the political will and bureaucratic and police set-up to prevent such attacks,” he said.

He said the state government had ignored the need for special forces to tackle the threat. “Most of the special forces in the state are being used for non-operational duties like guarding state politicians,” he said.

Prime Minister Singh has called the rebels India’s biggest internal security threat. They are now present in 20 of India’s 28 states and have thousands of fighters, according to the Home Ministry.

The rebels, known as Naxalites, have been fighting the central government for more than four decades, demanding land and jobs for tenant farmers and the poor. They take their name from the West Bengal village of Naxalbari where the movement began in 1967.

The fighters were inspired by Chinese Communist revolutionary leader Mao Zedong and have drawn support from displaced tribal populations opposed to corporate exploitation and official corruption.

The government has offered to begin peace talks with the rebels, but without success. The Maoists demand that it first withdraw thousands of paramilitary soldiers deployed to fight the rebels.

Maoist rebels carried out two major attacks in Chhattisgarh in 2010. They ambushed a paramilitary patrol in April that year, killing 76 troops in their worst attack ever. A month later, they triggered a land mine under a bus carrying civilians and police, killing 31.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Italy says will send its marines back to India for trial.

  • Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre (R) and Salvatore Girone (L) arrive at Ciampino airport near Rome, on December 22, 2012. Italy on Friday said it would send two marines on trial for murder in India back to the country, after earlier saying they would remain in Italy in a move that had unleashed a diplomatic furore

    View PhotoAFP/AFP/File – Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre (R) and Salvatore Girone (L) arrive at Ciampino airport near Rome, on December 22, 2012. Italy on Friday said it would send two marines on trial for murder …more 

Italy said two marines on trial for murder in India would return to the country by Friday, in a stunning turnaround after Rome earlier unleashed a diplomatic furore by saying they would not go back.

The two, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, had been granted a special leave last month by an Indian court to return to Italy to vote in elections but had skipped bail.

The government said on Thursday it had received “ample assurances” from Indian authorities “on the treatment that the marines will receive and the defence of their fundamental rights”.

“The government decided, also in the interests of the marines, to maintain the commitment taken when they were granted leave to take part in the elections to return to India by March 22,” it said.

“The marines agreed to this decision,” it added.

Prime Minister Mario Monti met with Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola and Steffan de Mistura, a junior foreign minister who has taken a lead on the case, to discuss the issue on Thursday.

De Mistura said the decision was a “difficult” one.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said he appreciated the “sense of responsibility” displayed by the two marines.

The government had announced on March 11 that the marines would not return from their leave.

The two are accused of shooting dead two Indian fishermen they mistook for pirates off the Indian port of Kochi last year while they were serving as security guards on an Italian oil tanker.

After Italy said the marines would not return, Indian authorities forbade Italy’s ambassador to New Delhi, Daniele Mancini, from leaving the country, saying he had broken a written promise.

Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born head of India’s ruling party, had accused Rome of an unacceptable “betrayal”, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had warned Italy that there would be “consequences”.

Italy had accused India of violating international laws on diplomatic immunity as the Indian Supreme Court issued a decision requiring Mancini to seek the court’s permission to leave the country.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday defended Mancini, saying diplomatic immunity “should be respected at all times” and warning that limiting his movement “would be contrary” to international obligations.



India bars Italian envoy from leaving, escalating tensions over marines shooting incident.

• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

India wants Italy to send two Italian marines accused of shooting Indian fishermen back to stand trial. Italy has refused, despite having promised earlier that it would.

India’s Supreme Court blocked the Italian ambassador from leaving the country today, further escalating a diplomatic dispute over twoItalian marines accused of shooting two fishermen last year in theArabian Sea, off the southwestern coast of India.

India wants the marines – who were allowed to leave briefly afterItaly guaranteed in writing that they would come back – to be returned to face murder charges in a special court in Delhi. Italy, however, has refused to honor that request.

“Italy takes this opportunity to inform the Indian government that, given the formal acknowledgement of an international dispute between the two states, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone will not be returning to India upon expiration of the leave granted them,” the Italian government said in a statement on Monday.

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In response, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told parliament on Wednesday that, “Ourgovernment has insisted that Italian authorities … respect the undertaking they have given to the Supreme Court and return the two accused persons to stand trial in India.

“If they do not keep their word, there will be consequences for our relations with Italy,” Mr. Singh said. His response was met by cheers, reports The Wall Street Journal.

India says the shooting took place in Indian waters. Italy contends it took place in international waters, and thus the marines – who have said they thought the men were Somali pirates – should be tried at home.

A post on The New York Times India Ink blog notes that the situation is complicated by the fact that ruling Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi was born in Italy and thus is suspected by some of being in the pocket of the European country. London’s Financial Times reiterates that point, reporting that opposition members in India have “accused the government of colluding with Italy to allow the marines to abscond and have suggested that Congress … is beholden to foreigners.”

And furthering tensions between the two countries is the fallout from recent corruption investigationby Italy into a Finmeccanica helicopter deal with India.

Today, India’s Supreme Court told Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini that he and the accused marines had until Monday to explain themselves, reports The Financial Times.


In India, myriad editorials, tweets, and commentary largely condemned the government’s “naïveté” in allowing the marines to exit the country before trial.

An editorial in The Times of India states that “The incident will reinforce the impression of India being a soft state with foreigners, whether friend or foe, unable to take its commitment to the rule of law seriously.

“In the event there’s little that New Delhi can do now. At best it can make a show of diplomatic anger and expel the Italian ambassador, but that will hardly serve the cause of justice for the fishermen. The misuse of paroles is rampant in India. But our government can’t show the same apathy in the Italian marines’ case. Their government has done an exemplary job of pursuing their interests. Fishermen plying some 3,00,000 fishing boats operating along the Indian coast deserve similarly robust defence. When they are mistaken for Somali pirates, shouldn’t they be able to count on their government to champion them?”

And many Indians took to Twitter to denounce their government’s decision. “We could have at least sent the #ItalianMarines back in one of our AgustaWestland VVIP choppers,” tweeted @ShivAroor, alluding to the alleged kickback scheme in India over the manufacturing of the Anglo-Italian helicopters.

And a cartoon by Satya in The Times of India shows an image of Singh calling Italy asking for the marines to be returned. The Italian response?

“You think it’s some pizza service? No home delivery!” A thought bubble next to the prime minister shows him noting that he must have called the wrong number.

An editorial entitled “An Italian Job” in The Hindu says that refusing to return Mr. Latorre and Mr. Girone may earn Italy “brownie points at home,” but the decision is “unbecoming of a responsible nation.

“The duo were permitted by the Supreme Court to visit Italy to cast their votes in the Feb. 22 national election, on a promise by the Italian government that they would return to India to face trial. Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi of the outgoing government spoke glowingly of the decision as “evidence of the climate of mutual trust and cooperation with Indian authorities.” Italy now stands in breach of that trust. The Italian foreign ministry says New Delhi did not heed its request for a diplomatic resolution, a curious statement considering all avenues for such resolution have already been tried and exhausted….

“While India-Italy ties will not be the same again, the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the two accused men to leave India is also curious…. another embarrassment for the UPA, which stands exposed for allowing itself to be taken for a ride so easily by a foreign government.

India’s actions also came in for criticism from abroad. “The Indian government continues to embarrass itself through repeated diplomatic bunglings,” read an editorial in Gulf News entitled “Italian marines exploited India’s naïve diplomacy.”

According to Reuters, Indian officials say they are weighing their next steps, and may consider expelling the Italian ambassador if the men don’t arrive in court as scheduled on March 22.

“I am the envoy. I will represent the government of Italy until the very moment when [a competent authority] would declare me persona non grata,” ambassador Mancini told reporters yesterday.


By Whitney Eulich | Christian Science Monitor

Woman’s Rape, Death Spark Global Conversation on Condition of Indian Women.

Indian women

The brutal rape and ultimate death of an unnamed woman in New Delhi, India, this week has opened the eyes of the world to violence against women in India and their deeply rooted social plight.

“The long-time abuse women in India endure has now been highlighted,” said K. P. Yohannan, president of Gospel for Asia (GFA). “Their social stigma and inhuman treatment with impunity make them the one of the largest unreached people groups.”

Gospel for Asia specializes in ministering to them through its “Women Reaching Women” outreach in India. Women missionaries are working heavily in rural areas where unlawful abuse occurs regularly without retribution and in urban prostitution centers.

Conditions are worst among the women “untouchables,” or Dalits, who are the lowest castes and considered subhuman. Of India’s 1.2 billion people, one-fourth are “untouchables.”

The ratio of 1,000 men to 850 women is owing to routine murders of women through infanticide, gender-based abortion, the dowry system and lack of proper medical care. Mortality rates of Indian women in childbirth are 254 per 100,000 women, contrasted with only 21 in the United States.

Yohannan calls the conditions for women in India “a horrendous evil that is worsening.” Of all married Indian women, 46 percent are age 18 or under. Marriage of girls age five to seven, although illegal, is still practiced in some rural areas. Approximately 10,000 women are murdered annually when they cannot raise the required dowries for marriage.

An estimated one in four rapes in India takes place in Delhi, now dubbed “the rape capital of India.” A high percentage of these are by family members. The most recent statistic on record of 21,000 rapes in 2008 has risen dramatically, with many authorities estimating as few as one percent of all rapes reported, according to Yohannan.

Once a woman has been raped, she is socially outcast from marriage forever, and the family bears lasting shame.

“I am grateful for how the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi, along with government agencies, are responding to this outcry. Positive steps are being taken.”

“Education for women in the name of Jesus is bringing hope,” said Yohannan. Indian women, who are often the last allowed to eat and the first to be kept illiterate, are learning to read and write and being educated on their human rights.

More than 59,000 women in India are enrolled in the microfinance system administered by GFA female partners. Women learn to support themselves and their families through gift supplies, such as sewing machines or chickens, from GFA donors.

Outcast widows are receiving aid directly from GFA’s “Women Reaching Women” female partners. Annually, 46,000 widows in India are murdered or turned out of their homes.

“Women Reaching Women” is also educating children of urban prostitutes to break the cycle of following in their mothers’ steps. GFA’s 580 additional Bridge of Hope institutions are bringing education, meals and healthcare to 60,000 children in India.

“While India needs enforcement of stricter laws to protect women, ultimate liberation and hope come only through the love of Christ,” said Yohannan. “In teaching, we are showing women that Jesus cares about their needs, loves them and answers their prayers.”



Body of India rape victim arrives home in New Delhi.

  • Rape victim becomes martyr in IndiaReuters Videos  0:55Thousands of people hold candle light vigil as people across India to seek justice for Delhi rape victim, …


NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The body of a woman whose gang rape provoked protests and rare national debate about violence against women in India arrived back in New Delhi early on Sunday and was quickly cremated at a private ceremony.

The unidentified 23-year-old medical student died from her injuries on Saturday, prompting promises of action from agovernment that has struggled to respond to public outrage.

She had suffered brain injuries and massive internal injuries in the attack on December 16, and died in hospital in Singapore where she had been taken for treatment.

She and a male friend had been returning home from the cinema, media reports say, when six men on a bus beat them with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. The friend survived.

Six suspects were charged with murder after her death.

A Reuters correspondent saw family members who had been with her in Singapore take her body from the airport to their Delhi home in an ambulance with a police escort.

Ruling party leader Sonia Gandhi was seen arriving at the airport when the plane landed and Prime Minister Mannmohan Singh’s convoy was also there, the witness said.

The body was then taken to a crematorium and cremated. Media were kept away but a Reuters witness saw the woman’s family, New Delhi’s chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, and the junior home minister, R P N Singh, coming out of the crematorium.

Security in the capital remained tight after authorities, worried about the reaction to the news of her death, had on Saturday deployed thousands of policemen and closed some roads and metro stations.

Protesters still gathered, in New Delhi and other cities, to keep the pressure on Singh’s government to get tougher on crime against women. Last weekend, protesters fought pitched battles with police.

On Sunday, lines of policemen in riot gear and armed with heavy wooden sticks stood in front of metal barricades closing off roads in New Delhi. Morning traffic was light.


The outcry over the attack caught the government off-guard. It took a week for Singh to make a statement, infuriating many protesters.

Issues such as rape, dowry-related deaths and female infanticide rarely enter mainstream political discourse in India.

Analysts say the death of the woman dubbed “Amanat”, an Urdu word meaning “treasure”, by some Indian media could change that, although it is too early to say whether the protesters calling for government action to better safeguard women can sustain their momentum through to national elections due in 2014.

Newspapers raised doubts about the commitment of both male politicians and the police to protecting women.

“Would the Indian political system and class have been so indifferent to the problem of sexual violence if half or even one-third of all legislators were women?” the Hindu newspaper asked.

The Indian Express acknowledged the police force was understaffed and poorly paid, but there was more to it than that.

“It is geared towards dominating citizens rather than working for them, not to mention being open to influential interests,” the newspaper said. “It reflects the misogyny around us, rather than actively fighting for the rights of citizens who happen to be female.”

Most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists, who say that successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women.

Commentators and sociologists say the rape has tapped into a deep well of frustration many Indians feel over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership on social issues.

New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in India rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.

For a link to the poll, click

(Additional reporting by Ross Colvin and Diksha Madhok; Writing by Louise Ireland; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Robert Birsel)


By Adnan Abidi and Devidutta Tripathy | Reuters

India clamps down on gang-rape protests, PM appeals for calm.

  • A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest in New Delhi December 24, 2012. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

    Enlarge Photo

    Reuters/Reuters – A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest in New Delhi December 24, 2012. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian authorities throttled movement in the heart of the capital on Monday, shutting roads and railway stations in a bid to restore law and order after police fought pitched battles with protesters enraged by the gang rape of a young woman.

In an unusual televised address, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for calm following the weekend clashes in New Delhi and vowed to punish the rapists for their “monstrous” crime.

Singh’s government, often accused by critics of being out of touch with the aspirations of many Indians, has been caught off-guard by the depth of the popular outrage as protests have snowballed and spread to other cities. India is seen as one of the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman.

Instead of channeling the outrage, the government has found itself on the defensive over the use of force against the protesters and complaints that it has done little in its eight years in power to create a safer environment for women.

The protests have been the biggest in the capital since 2011 demonstrations against corruption that rocked the government.

“People are not reacting to just one rape case. They are reacting to the general malaise, the frustration with the leadership. There is a feeling that the leadership is completely disconnected,” said political analyst Neerja Chowdhury.

Police barricaded roads leading to India Gate, an imposing Arc de Triomphe-style war memorial in the center of the city, that has become a hub of the protests by mostly college students. Many metro rail stations in fog-shrouded Delhi were also closed, crippling movement around the city of 16 million.

The protests overshadowed an official visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin and disrupted his schedule.

The 23-year-old victim of the December 16 attack, who was beaten, raped for almost an hour and thrown out of a moving bus in New Delhi, was still in a critical condition on respiratory support, doctors said.

In the weekend spasm of violent protests, police use batons, teargas and water cannon against demonstrators around the capital. Protests and candle-light vigils have also taken place in other Indian cities but they have been more peaceful.

“I appeal to all concerned citizens to maintain peace and calm. I assure you we will make all possible efforts to ensure security and safety of women in this country,” Singh said in his televised address to the nation.

Singh has been under fire for remaining largely silent since the rape. He issued a statement for the first time on Sunday, a week after the crime. Sonia Gandhi, chief of the ruling Congress Party, has met some of the protesters to hear their demands.

Comments by political commentators, sociologists and protesters suggest the rape has tapped into a deep well of frustration that many Indians have over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership on social and economic issues.

“There is a huge amount of anger. People are deeply upset that despite so many incidents there has not been much response from the state and the government,” said social activist Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research in Delhi.


New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. A global poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation in June found that India was the worst place in the world to be a woman because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery.

Since last week’s rape, the authorities have promised better police patrolling to ensure safety for women returning from work and entertainment districts, more buses at night, and fast-track courts for swift verdicts on cases of rape and sexual assaults.

But protesters view those measures as inadequate and are looking for the government to take a firmer stand on sexual assaults countrywide, most of which go unreported.

Reported rape cases in India have increased by 9.2 percent to 24,206 cases in 2011 from 22,172 the previous year, according to the latest figures from the National Crime Record Bureau,

“This is not about that one rape,” said aspiring fashion designer Shruti Sharma, 24, at a protest in Delhi on Monday.

“This is about how crime is rampant in our cities. We are angry at the government for not ensuring the safety of its citizens. The judiciary is slow. Cases take too long.”

Opposition political parties, normally quick to exploit the government’s vulnerabilities, have largely been sidelined in the protests, which have mostly been organized through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The protesters come from all walks of life but many are young and middle class. Political commentators see their involvement as evidence of growing frustration with the government’s focus on poor and rural voters and a failure to pass on the benefits of a decade of rapid economic growth.

So far, however, the protesters’ focus has been on the rape case rather than on other grievances.

(Additional reporting By Rajesh Kumar Singh and Satarupa Bhattacharjya in New Delhi, Sujoy Dhar in Kolkata, Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow, Ashok Pahalwan in Jammu and , writing by Ross Colvin,; Editing by John Chalmers and Robert Birsel)


By Ross Colvin and Arup Roychoudhury | Reuters

Anti-corruption crusader rattles India’s political class.


NEW DELHI (Reuters) – From a shabby house in one of New Delhi’s grimmest suburbs, a mild-mannered former tax official has launched a salvo of accusations of corruption involving some ofIndia’s most powerful people, rocking the political establishment.

In quick succession, Arvind Kejriwal has publicly leveled charges of shady dealings against the son-in-law of ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, the outgoing law minister and the leader of the main opposition party.

His claims, carried live and endlessly raked over by breathless 24/7 television news networks, tap into popular outrage over the deep-rooted corruption in Indian politics, government and business that is often endured but rarely confronted in so public a manner, even by the media.

“Our purpose is to tell the people that every single political party is corrupt. They are in collusion with each other, they protect each other,” Kejriwal told Reuters as he sat in a sparsely furnished office receiving a stream of visitors.

While none of Kejriwal’s claims have yet led to any formal investigations, his targeting of high-profile individuals is unprecedented.

Anti-corruption activists have in the past pressed for stricter rules to tackle corruption but have refrained from naming and shaming. Even rival political parties have tended to shy away from personal attacks.

It is, though, the parties that Indians perceive as the most corrupt institutions, according to Transparency International. A recent survey of upper house lawmakers by National Election Watch found their average net worth stood at about $2.3 million. Lawmakers earn about $900 a month.


Kejriwal has fought a decade-long campaign to bring more transparency to government, but it was in 2010 that he began to pursue corruption more vigorously.

He was one of the architects of the India Against Corruption movement led by veteran social activist Anna Hazare, 75, whose public hunger strike against graft last year led to an outpouring of support from millions of middle-class Indians disgusted by the venality of the ruling class.

Corruption is part of daily life in India – from bribes paid for something as simple as getting a gas connection, passport or avoiding a traffic violation, to multi-billion-dollar scandals.

Hazare’s campaign has fizzled, but Kejriwal’s targeting of high-profile individuals has thrust him into the spotlight.

In the space of a few weeks the diminutive former bureaucrat, who often wears a short-sleeve check shirt that seems one size too big for him, has become a media sensation. His news conferences attract hundreds of reporters, and he has announced he is launching his own political party.

His critics dismiss him as a political opportunist, but acknowledge his shrewd use of the media, especially television, to amplify his anti-corruption crusade.

“He has shaken up the system. Whether that will result in the cleansing of the system, I don’t know,” said political commentator Swapan Dasgupta.

None of Kejriwal’s corruption claims – which are based on government documents obtained through India’s Right to Information Act or whistleblowers – amount to a “smoking gun”. But his outspokenness has emboldened Indian media to launch their own investigations into those named.


A Congress party leader called Kejriwal a “self-serving ambitious megalomaniac” after he produced documents alleging irregularities in land deals involving Sonia Gandhi’s businessman son-in-law, Robert Vadra, and India’s biggest property developer, DLF Ltd.

Vadra has denied the allegations, saying they were “utterly false, entirely baseless and defamatory”. DLF, which has also strongly denied any impropriety, saw nearly $580 million wiped off its market value in a single day after Kejriwal’s claims.

In making the allegations, Kejriwal trod on dangerous ground. The charges punctured the almost bullet-proof wall of silence that surrounds the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty, which is viewed as the closest thing India has to a royal family.

Kejriwal, 44, smiles beneath his neatly trimmed moustache when asked about the bitter verbal attacks on him. “We expected all this to happen, which only means that we have been effective. They are all rattled,” he said.

Outgoing Law Minister Salman Khurshid called Kejriwal an ant trying to take on an elephant after he alleged a non-governmental group led by Khurshid and his wife misused funds.

The Khurshids have denied any wrongdoing, and the prime minister publicly demonstrated his support by making him foreign minister on Sunday.

One of Khurshid’s cabinet colleagues said he did not believe Kejriwal’s allegations that Khurshid had embezzled a sum equivalent to $134,000. “It is a very small amount for a central minister,” he said, adding that he would have taken the charge seriously if the amount had been 100 times larger.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called Kejriwal a “hitman” after he raised questions about a land deal involving BJP president Nitin Gadkari. Gadkari also denied any wrongdoing.


On any given day, the three-storey office of Kejriwal’s India Against Corruption in the east Delhi suburb of Ghaziabad is a hive of activity.

Activists on plastic chairs tap away at laptops recording citizens’ complaints. Piles of pamphlets titled “Power to the People” are stacked in a corner, while pictures of independence hero Mahatma Gandhi dot the walls.

A small rag-tag group of paid staff and volunteers help direct a sophisticated media campaign that includes Twitter, Facebook, and mass text messages and emails.

In the lull that has followed Kejriwal’s series of corruption claims, questions have arisen about his “judge, jury, prosecutor” approach, how he can sustain media interest in his campaign without more sensational claims, and whether he is being manipulated by political parties to smear opponents.

“Mr Kejriwal has done a signal service by raising the issue of endemic corruption. But he does not seem to have the patience to wait for one set of charges to be proved or disproved before coming up with another,” the Hindustan Times newspaper said.

Prashant Bhushan, a veteran Supreme Court lawyer and legal advisor to Kejriwal, insists that the allegations of wrongdoing are all carefully screened before they are made public. He acknowledged, however, that it was possible some of them may have ultimately emanated from certain political parties.


Kejriwal dismisses media efforts to cast him as an Indian Julian Assange, the controversial founder of WikiLeaks.

“Our idea is not to keep exposing people. Our purpose is to change the political establishment,” Kejriwal said.

Kejriwal has yet to name his party, which will contest upcoming state and national elections, but his decision to enter politics has raised eyebrows. Some political commentators, and even former comrades, call him a naive idealist who will become just another voice in a noisy parliament.

Kejriwal, who is shy and soft-spoken away from the television cameras, straightens up in his plastic chair and speaks with passion when asked to respond to such criticism.

“Without jumping into the system, it will be impossible to clean up the system. We are going to challenge this political system on a daily basis,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Annie Banerji; Editing by Michael Perry and Robert Birsel)


By Ross Colvin and John Chalmers | Reuters

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