Villagers uncover fraud
In September 2013, a group of five men began raising money from the villagers of Mewat district, Haryana, India. The group asked money for the installation of iron plates with messages about AIDS and female foeticide (an act of killing an unborn child because it is female). Covering villages, the group reached Meoli, where Sehgal Foundation trains villagers under its Good Governance Now program. Under the program, villagers learn about government programs running for the welfare of villagers. They also learn to identify when government program is not properly running and when corruption is taking place.
When the group of five men began raising money in Meoli village, citizens questioned them about the true use of the funds. They asked the details of the government scheme under which they were collecting money. The group could not provide satisfactory answers, but showed project approval papers from the office of Block Development Officer (BDO). The villagers got suspicious and decided to investigate the matter.
During the investigation, villagers learned that the group had been fundraising in the nearby villages as well. Next, they contacted the Mewat district office. They found that there is no such government program.
By then, the group of men had already collected money from 14 villages. Media also began following the news of the fraud. Two Hindi dailies, Punjab Kesari and Aaj Samaj, reported the fraud. Punjab Kesari published a report with a headline “Fraud in the name of ‘Save the girl child’, ‘Save Society’ messages.”
The villagers are enraged to discover that the group cheated them. Citizens trained under Good Governance program of Sehgal Foundation came together to help villagers. They gathered at the Additional Deputy Commissioner’s office at Nuh block (Mewat) and demanded a reponse from the BDO. The BDO came for the meeting and said that the signatures on the approval letter were fake.
Ramzan Chaudhary, an advocate and social worker, lent support to the villagers. He, on behalf of villagers, “demanded inquiry into the matter”.
The Deputy Commissioner (DC) directed Assistant Deputy Commissioner to form a panel to inquire into the matter. The panel submitted its report to the DC’s office. According to the report, the BDO for Nuh was involved in the fraud. The police registered a case against the BDO and the five men, involved in the fraud.
The villagers are hopeful that the authorities will take a suitable disciplinary action against the accused.
The Sehgal Foundation continues to train villagers with an aim that more people will learn to identify fraud in their communities. The citizen-led action inspires others to ensure proper functioning of government schemes in their area.
For more information, please contact: