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Some winners say they bought their awards

Staff Reporter

Organisers refute charge and say only donations were collected for sewing machines

BANGALORE: Wearing the tag of an "awardee" has never been so easy. Simply pay a few thousands of rupees and walk away with an award.

At least this is what happened at an award presentation ceremony organised by the International Integrity Peace and Friendship Society here on Sunday. A good number of the 58 "eminent personalities", who had been chosen by the organisation for its annual "Priyadarshini Indira Gandhi Award", alleged that they had paid in thousands to "earn" the award.

This is not all. They also had to pay Rs. 2,000 to get a compact disc and a photograph of the award function.

Friends and relatives of the awardees, who had no place to sit and witness the award ceremony, complained they could not witness the award function even after paying the money.

"That is why we are forced to buy the CD, which we can watch at home," said a friend of an awardee from Bellary.

The brother of another awardee from Bagalkot said they had paid Rs. 10,000 as donation to the organisation.

"My brother has done social work and he deserves the award. We have not paid money for the award. It is only a donation, which the organisers said will be used to give sewing machines to destitute women," he said.

A friend of another awardee from Karwar said the "award money" varied from person to person. Asserting that his friend too deserved the award, he admitted that most of the prize-winners, including his friend, had paid huge sums to be recognised.

Baseless

When contacted, M. Bayyannachar, founder of the organisation, denied the allegation and said that it was a baseless accusation by some disgruntled people, who did not get the award.

But when told that the allegation was made by the awardees, Mr. Bayyannachar said that some people had paid "donations for sewing machines." "We have not collected any money. We are an 18-year-old organisation and are into social work. These eminent personalities have been chosen through an elaborate process in the last four months. These are all false allegations," he said.

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