For the last few years people have been talking incoherently about my organization and me. So the common man should be made aware of ground realities as they are being misled. Hence, I am trying to clear some misconceptions here.
In the year1962 China attacked India causing loss to human lives and financial loss. With the aim of doing service to the country I joined army in the year 1963. In my twelve years of army service I had to put up a fight against 11 army officers for the soldiers lodging, boarding and other questions. Following this I occupied a special place in the heart of the soldiers and they gave me a pen name ‘Shastriji’.
In my 12 years of service I spent most of my time on the border. I served on border of Sikkim, Bhutan and Nepal and in Leh, Ladakh, Kashmir, Mizoram, Bengal, Assam and ice-capped regions of Himalaya. As I always put up a fight for the good of the soldiers I was purposefully sent to remote areas. But this did not deter me from my goal, which was service to the nation and failed to break my spirit. In spite of the hardships and troubles, it was clear in my mind that I was doing this for my country and after 12 years of service I got the right to pension. The role of ‘Jai Jawan’ was for my country and now to fulfill my role of ‘Jai Kisaan’ I took voluntary retirement from the army.
After my retirement from the army when I returned home I was appalled to find my village Ralegan Siddhi in pitiable state. My village was struck by famine so there was water and food shortage and nearly 80% people went to sleep on empty stomachs. Villagers travelled 4 to 5 Kilometers in search of work so that they can have a decent meal. As there was no source of income people resorted to making country liquor. Due to these liquor shops atmosphere in the village was contaminated.
It pained to see my village reduced to this state. I decided to pull out my village from this cycle of destruction. With the help of the villagers I was able to shut down the liquor shops. I created jobs for the villagers so there could be some source of income available for them. I started water-shed development projects thus changing geographical conditions of the village and bringing about economic and social change. In the village where there were once 30 to 35 liquor shops now you will not find a single shop selling cigarettes, Gutka, tobacco or bidi. The village that was once famous for its liquor now exports nearly 5000 liters of milk. In the past, 300 acres of land would yield one crop at the most but now after implementing water-shed development project a 1500 acre land now yields two crops.
Ralegan Siddhi has become independent and self-sufficient. Today you will not find a single person hungry instead milk, vegetables and food-grains are being exported. Now it is difficult to find farm hands. Initially school was till 4rth standard but now children in the village can avail of higher education like art, commerce and science. For the education purpose eight farmers donated 12 acres of their land to the trust as gift. Schools, hostels, temples amounting to crores of rupees have been built by the villagers on their own. Not a single penny has been taken as a donation from an industrialist residing outside the village or from abroad. School children have brought laurels back home in sports at the district, state and national level. They have even represented India at international level in sports.
1975 marked the beginning of development projects and with the help of the villagers it was a huge success but corruption started eating at its roots and even one paisa out of ten paisa did not reach the village project. Hence since 1990 I am fighting against corruption with the hope that someday it will be curbed. Taking my fight a step ahead in 1997 I established the ‘Anti-Corruption Jan Andolan’ because I believe that to speed up structural development in the country and to stop corruption are the same side of two coins. These two things go hand-in-hand is my belief after many years of experience and will mark a bright future for our nation and society at large hence I am working simultaneously on both. In order to fulfill my commitments I have formed various trusts but many a times there are people who hurl accusations and counter-accusations in spite of the good work being done thus misleading people.
On 27th April 1997, some Ministers from the coalition government accused our Hind Swaraj Trust of being involved in corruption. On 10th May 1997 I went on fast demanding an enquiry against the corruption charges leveled on our Trust. Then Chief-Minister Shri. Manohar Joshi through a charitable officer sat up an enquiry on the trust and later on 19.05.1997 declared that Hind Swaraj Trust had no irregularities as such nor were they responsible for any corrupt activities.
When coalition government was in power I had exposed some of the ministers and they had to resign under corruption charges. I was put in jail thereafter by the government. But later on they were forced to release me and pardon my sentence due to the mounting pressure from all over Maharashtra as people voiced their discontent against my arrest.
In the year 2003, I had strong proof that Shri. Suresh Jain and some Ministers were involved in corrupt activities. I tried to convey this to the government through letters. After trying to communicate with them through letters for over 10 to 15 times I went on fast on 9th August 2003. The Ministers too went on fast insisting that if an enquiry is set up on the Ministers then Anna Hazare should also go through the same.
Maharashtra Government on 9th September, 2003 set up an enquiry committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge Hon. Shri. P.B.Sawant. I along with four other Ministers faced the enquiry committee. For the next 1 and ½ years the enquiry committee’s work would begin at 11 in the morning and end at 5 in the evening.
As the Sawant Committee’s enquiry progressed some of the Ministers demanded permission to be granted to have a look at our Trust papers. On 9/6/2005, the enquiry committee had this request put up to us and we readily agreed to show our papers to the Ministers. On behalf of the Ministers, a team of six Chartered Accountants came over to our village and for six days minutely scrutinized the papers. Nearly papers measuring a half-full tempo were xeroxed but not even a 100 rupee worth corruption was found and neither any irregularity was cited in the trust’s work.
Sawant Committee submitted its report to the Government on 23rd Feb 2005. Of the Ministers found guilty Shri. Vijaykumar Gavit was set free as his offense was less compared to the others. The Committee explained in detail how Shri. Suresh Jain, Shri. Padmasinh Patil and Nawab Malik were involved in corrupt activities. Our Trust was called up for minor irregularity and for not submitting papers on time.
As the three Ministers were pronounced guilty by Sawant Committee on 10th March 2005 they were asked to resign.
In order to prove the innocence of the Ministers found guilty by Sawant Committee, the Government on 25.4.2005 appointed Sukhthankar Committee to begin its probe. The Sukhthankar Committee submitted its report on 22nd Sept 2005 and found one of the Ministers guilty. I along with the rest of the three Ministers was proved innocent and set free.
We urged the Government not to take the judgment submitted by Sukhthankar Committee prima facie as it had flaunted all rules. Even the High Court directed the Government to follow the report submitted by Sawant Committee but the government did not pay heed to our request so on 25th December 2005 we went on fast. On 3rd Jan 2006, the government assured us they will form a committee headed by Advocate general hence we broke our fast. But as no action was taken we once again decided to go on fast on 2nd October 2009 with the demand that based on Sawant Committee’s report including us everyone should be thoroughly scrutinized. Maharashtra’s Home Minister directed the Director General of Police to conduct an enquiry as per Sawant Committee’s report and on 9.10.2009 we were given a letter stating the same. We broke our fast. In spite of pursuing the matter to such an extent the Government did not bother to take any action on the tainted ministers but in fact supported them. On 10th October 2011 I wrote a letter to Hon. Chief- Minister Prithviraj Chavan that as per the P.B.Sawant Committee’s report an enquiry should be initiated on us and the said Ministers or else I will be forced to begin my agitation.
The accused Ministers have filed cases against me in various courts in Maharashtra their aim being to keep me busy in court cases. But my lawyer friends are fighting these cases for me without charging a single rupee.
Recently on 14th August 2011, Manish Tiwari quoting from the irregularity found by Sawant Committee report accused me of being corrupt and said ‘Anna Hazare is steeped in corruption from head to toe’. I sent a legal notice to him through my lawyer for maligning my name and he in return has apologized in writing admitting his mistake for the same. Throughout my entire life I have been very particular and not let anyone slander my character.
There are many people out there who throw accusations and counter-accusations on our organizations but fail to see our work and contribution done for the betterment of the society and the nation. People from all over India and abroad visit a tiny village like Ralegan Sidddhi to have a glimpse of our development activities. Till today 6 lac people have paid us a visit and taken inspiration from us. Five people have done their PH.D on our village’s development. Government felicitated me with Padmahree & Padmbhushan. It is unfortunate that some people tend to ignore these positive realities. The color of goggles you wear will color the world for you. Those people having doubts regarding the activities carried out by our trusts can personally have a look and we will help in clearing all your doubts. But I feel one should for no reason not indulge in incoherent discussions.
Inquilab Zindabad! Vande Mataram! Bharat Mata ki Jai! Jai Hind!
K. B. Hazare (Anna)