Editor Musings – ‘Slumgate’ Corruption at the highest levels in Delhi

India’s “Slumgate” as we are calling it is actually good news for India and the rest of the world’s perception of Indian corruption. Good news you may be asking? Well yes, if a small time canteen contractor can openly operate within the halls of power in Delhi and accumulate 50 luxury cars with VIP license plates (which he drove one to work every day), Rs 17 lakh in cash and about 7 kg of gold without anyone in the Delhi Assembly “noticing”; then maybe the days of outright corruption are coming to an end. I say coming to end because if someone were arrogant enough to operate a small canteen business and own 50 luxury cars while working under the noses of India’s political elite, then one can reasonably assume said canteen owner had tacit approval. However, someone turned in the alleged criminal Ashok Malhotra and remarkably the matter was not swept under the rug. In the past, a matter with this scope that potentially will ensnare officials at all levels of the Delhi government and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) would have been quickly dismissed or twisted such that only the sacrificial lamb would have been convicted. Five DDA officials have already been arrested pertaining to the resettlement of the Hudson Lines JJ colony in North Delhi. Under a DDA scheme, all slum-dwellers were supposed to be given a plot each (measuring 20.9 square metres) at Dheerpur, Phase-I in north Delhi. "However, the accused DDA officials allotted a number of these plots in the name of fictitious persons, using forged identity documents, allegedly at the behest of Malhotra, who subsequently sold these plots at exorbitant rates," said an official. “Some incriminating documents have also been recovered from his Mukherjee Nagar home in north Delhi, but we can't reveal the details pertaining to the scam as investigations are still underway,” an official added. Once can’t get more low than stealing from the displaced poor. This outrage should be investigated thoroughly without political privilege. In fact The BJP State president Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “A scam of such scale would not have been possible without the connivance of the Chief Minister.” That may be a political play and a statement made in haste, but if the scope of the crime is as we suspect, it’s impossible to believe that those throughout the ministry didn’t have some knowledge of the crime.

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