Civil society boycotts Lokpal committee meeting | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Civil society boycotts Lokpal committee meeting

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday was petitioned by civil society on increasing differences in the joint drafting committee over Lokpal Bill and attack on villagers while acquiring land for India’s biggest Foreign Direct Investment by Posco in Orissa.

delhi Updated: Jun 06, 2011 17:47 IST
HT Correspondent

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday was petitioned by civil society on increasing differences in the joint drafting committee over Lokpal Bill and attack on villagers while acquiring land for India’s biggest Foreign Direct Investment by Posco in Orissa.

Civil society activists led by Anna Hazare boycotted the meeting of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal bill saying government's intentions raised serious doubts about having a strong anti-corruption watchdog and protesting against the police crackdown on Ramdev.

The activists have also sought rescheduling of the next meeting of the JDC on June 10 to some other date because of some prior engagements of Hazare.

Prashant Bhushan, on behalf of team Anna Hazare wrote announcing their decision not to attend the meetings on the ground that the government wants to practically leave everyone out of Lokpal's ambit--Prime Minister, horse trading of MPs, middle and lower bureaucracy judiciary.

He said there was divergence even on the vision of Lokpal and if the government's stand is accepted, Lokpal would be left to investigate the corruption of only 300-odd officers and ministers. "This is government's vision for Lokpal," the letter said.

Asked whether there could be a middle-path to resolve the stalemate, Kejriwal said they will compromise only if the public says so. “If the public does not want the Lokpal to investigate charges of a Prime Minister's corruption, we are ready to drop it. If the public does not want an investigation by Lokpal the charge of a bribe given to judge, then we are ready for a compromise," he said.

In an unrelated letter, 32 civil society organizations including the ones headed by National Advisory Council members Aruna Roy, Deep Joshi and Harsh Mander, urged the Prime Minister to stop attack on poor villagers, who were resisting acquisition of their land for Rs 54,000 crore Posco’s Steel Plant in Orissa.

“We condemn the outrageous and illegal attempt by the Odisha government, with the connivance and support of the Centre, to attack and seize the land of the villagers affected by the proposed POSCO project,” the letter said.

On June 3rd, 17 people - including five children - were arrested and beaten by the police because they refused to allow the destruction of their farms. “We also understand that the administration has been announcing through loudspeakers that they will use force against anyone who does not submit to the takeover of their land within the next 24 hours, the letter said.

Through the letter the groups also urged the PM to ask the Orissa government to halt this illegal attack, to withdraw all clearances given in violation of law, and to take an impartial position in the court cases filed by the people. “Failure to stop this attack will show that the UPA government's much vaunted concern over issues of displacement, forest rights and "inclusive growth" is simply an eyewash,” they said.