An FIR was registered against Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar and 11 others in Madhya Pradesh’s Barwani district on a complaint by a villager alleging the misuse of funds collected for managing educational facilities for tribal students by diverting them for a “political and anti-national agenda”, police said on Sunday.
Patkar has dismissed the allegations against her as “wrong”, saying she had a full account and audit of the expenses and hinted at political reasons behind the allegations.
Barwani superintendent of police Deepak Kumar Shukla told PTI over the phone that a case was registered against Medha Patkar and others following a private complaint, in which the complainant has provided some documents.
“As the case is related to old transactions, a detailed investigation will be carried out,” he said.
The FIR was registered at the Barwani police station on Saturday on the complaint of one Pritamraj Badole, a resident of Temla Bujurg village.
Badole has alleged that Narmada Navnirman Abhiyan (NNA), a trust registered in Mumbai, misused funds collected for running residential educational facilities for tribal students of the Narmada Valley in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, as per the FIR.
The complainant stated that the NNA had received Rs 13.50 crore from various sources in the past 14 years but these funds were used for a “political and anti-national agenda”, which requires a probe.
Those named in the FIR are Medha Patkar, Parveen Rumi Jahangir, Vijaya Chouhan, Kailash Awasya, Mohan Patidar, Ashish Mandloi, Kewal Singh Vasave, Sanjay Joshi, Shyam Patil, Sunit SR, Noorji Padvi and Keshav Vasave.
“The case is related to two states — Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The documents and facts will be verified and all the parties concerned will be allowed to present their sides and facts. Further legal steps will be taken as per the facts that emerge during the investigation,” the SP said.
Rubbishing the allegations, Patkar said she was yet to receive any information on this development (registration of the FIR) from the police.
Patkar claimed it was not the first time that she was being subjected to such allegations and asserted she was ready to reply to all of them as the full accounts and audit of the funds were available.
She alleged that the complainant may be associated with the RSS and ABVP and reiterated that her organisation does not receive funds from abroad and all finances are thoroughly audited annually.
“The funds were used appropriately and the ‘jiwanshalas’ being run at present have been there for the past three decades. The organisation has been involved in rehabilitation for decades. It has always given replies to such allegations with documents,” Patkar said.
The activist, however, also said she didn’t deal with funds and expenses, which are taken care of by other functionaries.
Patkar, who claimed that a debate is underway in the country on ‘rashtravad’ (nationalism) and ‘rashtradroh’ (treason/sedition), said there may be political reasons behind this case or it may be a conspiracy to defame her.
“Those who do the right thing by asking questions about the system are called anti-nationals. The public will decide,” she said.