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Is India whistleblowers’ graveyard? IAS officer DK Ravi’s death suggests so



By Harshmeet Singh

In 2009, when DK Ravi’s parents heard the news that their son has cracked what many call ‘the toughest exam in the country’ with an all India rank of 34, they could hardly believe their ears. Little over 5 years down the line, another ‘unbelievable’ news regarding their son struck their ears. This time, they were told that their son has committed suicide by hanging himself to the ceiling fan.

The news of young IAS officer DK Ravi’s mysterious death in Bangalore is both, sad and depressing at the same time. As the news spread like wildfire, conspiracy theories of a foul play began surfacing from all quarters. In his tenure as the Deputy Commissioner of Kolar district in Karnataka, Ravi had earned the love of the locals owing to his honesty and integrity. His efforts to expose the sand mafia in the district were well known in the entire district and beyond. His 24×7 accessibility for the common man, random raids on sand mafia and on people with political connections made him a threat for many a people. His untimely transfer to Bangalore as Additional Commissioner of Commercial Taxes is traced to the pressure put by Sand mafia over the state Government. His transfer from Kolar saw unprecedented protests from the locals in the district, who were not willing to see their hero go away. And far away he went.

Ravi’s family has now revealed that he used to get threat calls from Dubai, but he never lost his sleep over them, which makes his alleged suicide all the more doubtful. The family has also refused to believe the theory that ‘extreme work pressure’ led to Ravi taking such a step. With the sand mafia angle looming large and the state’s Siddaramaiah Government already knee deep in corruption allegations, justice in this case seems far and away.

 Unfortunately, DK Ravi’s case has a number of precedents in the country.

Shanmugam Manjunath

While working as a Marketing Manager in the Indian Oil Corporation, Manjunath had ordered the sealing of two petrol pumps in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri for selling adulterated fuel. He was on a surprise inspection to one of these petrol pumps when he was shot dead by the owner of the pump, Pawan Kumar Mittal. The accused were convicted and are currently serving a life sentence. Inspired by his courage, students from IIM established ‘The Manjunath Shanmugam Trust’ in his name. The trust currently operates a nationwide Right to Information Act Helpline with an aim of improving governance in the country.

Satyendra Dubey  

Satyendra Dubey’s case was perhaps the most high profile whistleblower case in the country. An officer in the Indian Engineering Services, Dubey was murdered in Gaya in 2003 while he was exposing a major scandal in the government’s ambitious Golden Quadrilateral project. While working as project director at National Highway Authority of India, he found that Larsen and Toubro, the main contractor of the project, was subletting the work to smaller and cheaper firms who didn’t possess the required high end technology for the project.

 After his seniors didn’t respond to his questions, he sent a letter directly to the Prime Minister saying “Though the NHAI is going for international competitive bidding to procure the most competent civil contractors for execution of its projects, when it comes to actual execution, it is found that most of the works, sometimes even up to 100 per cent are subcontracted to petty contractors incapable of executing such big projects. A dream project of unparalleled importance to the Nation but in reality a great loot of public money because of very poor implementation at every state. I have written all these in my individual capacity. However, I will keep on addressing these issues in my official capacity in the limited domain within the powers delegated to me”.

Despite his repeated requests about not disclosing his identity, his name came out in the open and he was cautioned by the NHAI for sending a letter directly to the PM.

His death led to strong protests all over the country and inside the Parliament. In 2010, three people were convicted by the Patna court for Dubey’s murder. Satyendra K Dubey Memorial Award was established after his death. Given to the IIT alumnus with highest professional integrity, this award has been awarded to Arvind Kejriwal as well.

Narendra Kumar

An IPS officer of the 2009 batch, Kumar was killed after he exposed the mining mafia in the state of Madhya Pradesh. He was brutally run over by a tractor in Morena, Madhya Pradesh after he tried to stop the tractor which was carrying illegally mined stones. Anna Hazare, along with his team, staged a protest against the murder of Kumar.

In the same week as Kumar’s murder, another IPS officer in the Chambal region, Jaidevan was assaulted by the local liquor mafia. Though he managed to escape without serious injuries, the deteriorated law and order situation in Madhya Pradesh was for everyone to see.

Lalit Mehta

Lalit Mehta paid the price for exposing multiple irregularities in the NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act). He was found murdered in Palamau, Jharkhand in 2008. The local police conveniently passed on the matter, saying that his murderers have been killed by the Naxals since they claimed that they will bring his perpetrators to the books. “Now there is nothing to enquire into the Lalit Mehta case,” is what Palamau SP Udayan Singh had to say.

Unfortunately, the list of courageous whistleblowers who lost their lives for doing their job with integrity is a never ending one. V Saseendran was found hanging in his house with his two children after he exposed financial irregularities worth Rs 400 crore in the company where he was working. It was found later that he was the prime witness in a number of cases involving political leaders of the state.

Laws for whistleblowers

It was only in 2011 that the Government felt the need to frame a law for the protection of whistleblowers in the country. Subsequently, the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2011 was passed by the Rajya Sabha in February 2014 and got the President’s nod in May 2014.

The Parliament, very conveniently, has excluded the politicians from the purview of this act. When was the last time that a scandal took place without a political hand in it? Unless the political nexus gives way to an honest bureaucracy, no act would be able to change the fortunes of whistleblowers in India.

The Modi Government has recently announced its intentions of bringing certain amendments in the Whistleblower Act to give more teeth to the CVC. Prioritizing this bill and making it more holistic would certainly help make India a safer country for whistleblowers and save the life of the next DK Ravi and Satyendra Dubey.

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Rajiv Mehrishi Takes Over as CAG of India

Rajiv Mehrishi (IANS)

New Delhi, Sep 25: Former Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi assumed the office of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India today. He took the oath of office before President Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.

Mehrishi succeeds Shashi Kant Sharma, former CAG of India, who demitted office on September 22 of this year.

Mehrishi, who retired as Home Secretary in August at the end of a two-year extension, will have a tenure as CAG until August 7, 2020, when he will turn 65.

Mehrishi belonged to the 1978 batch of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) of Rajasthan cadre.

He was appointed Union Home Secretary in August 2015. Prior to that, he was Finance Secretary at the Centre and Rajasthan Chief Secretary.

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Not Just Journalist Ram Chandra Chhatrapati, these 9 People too Bore the Brunt of Speaking Truth to Fight Corruption

Here is the list of other courageous people who paid a heavy price for their honesty

Not just Ram Chandra, 9 more activists bore the brunt of speaking truth and fighting corruption in India
Many people have been murdered for speaking truth and protesting corruption. Pixabay

Aug 30, 2017: We live in a strange world, here, you get butchered for speaking truth and protesting corruption, and you are exalted for committing monstrous sins.

The conclusion of the rapist, Baba Ram Rahim case, was the first tribute to the family of the brave journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati who was murdered for exposing Dera Sacha Sauda chief.

Ram Chander isn’t the only one who sacrificed his life for the nation.

Here is the list of other anti-corruption activists people who paid a heavy price for their honesty:

Narendra Kumar

Narendra Kumar, the Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, was killed by a sand mining mafia, who was carrying illegally mined stones on the tractor in Madhya Pradesh. The murder of the officer in 2002 also raised a debate on corruption, and many activists including Anna Hazare protested against the episode. A tractor was run over the officer after he tried to stop it. 

Pravin Mohare

Pravin Mohare was the film agent in Mumbai, who used to procure film certificates from the Censor Board of India. He dared to expose the former CEO of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for accepting bribe worth Rs 50,000 to provide a film certificate. In 2014, Mohare was praised for the brave act, but sooner his ID was blocked by the CFBC. He was forced to sell vegetables in Mumbai after spending months jobless.

Lalit Mehta 

Lalit, an RTI activist, was murdered in 2008 for exposing racket in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). He was attacked while riding on his way to Chatarpur. Lalit’s face was crushed to an increasing amount that it was unidentifiable.

Also Read: Criminal Babas in India- Rapist Ram Rahim and Rapist Asaram: Why Delay in Justice of these Godmen?

Manjunath Shanmugam 

Manjunath, an IIM graduate, worked as a Sales officer for the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). He was murdered for sealing two corrupt petrol stations in Lakhimpur, UP, which used to sell adulterated petrol. He also led a surprise raid after the petrol station reopened. In 2005, Manjunath was found dead with injuries from six bullets in the backseat of his car.

Niladri Chattopadhyay Niloy

Niladri Chattopadhyay Niloy was human rights activist and a blogger. He used to write about women issues, minority groups and opposed religious extremism. His blog, Mukto Mona, was a community of free thinkers, skeptics, atheists, and rationalists, which was formed by Avijit Roy. Avijit was killed by an Islamic group, which claimed responsibility for the murder. Niladari was the voice for Avijit’s death and met the same fate for supporting him. A group of four Muslim youths butchered Niladari with sharp weapons at his apartment where he was found dead.

Satish Shetty

Satish Shetty was an Indian social activist who had exposed numerous real-estate scams in Maharashtra using Right to Information (RTI). Satish’s engagement with truth earned him many enemies. In 2010, anonymous attackers killed him in Talegaon.

Satyendra Dubey

Satyendra Dubey, a proficient IES officer, was the Project Director of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) at Koderma. Coming from a low-income family, he was not fond of corruption and found many discrepancies in the projects of the NHAI at Koderma. He also asked the contractor to reconstruct 6 km of poorly built roads. In 2003, Satyendra was shot dead by the mafia of road construction. His body was discovered aside the road in Gaya, Bihar.

Shehla Masood

Shehla Masood was the environmentalist, businessman, wildlife, and RTI activist. In 2011, she was shot dead at point blank range by an unidentified assailant in Bhopal. The most probable reason for her death was attached to her protest against illegal mining of diamond and strife to save animals who were slaughtered for their skins.

Tej Bahadur Yadav

Tej Bahadur Yadav, a BSF jawan, uploaded several videos on Facebook concerning the inferior quality of food given to the jawans, which the BSF denied. BSF dismissed him, and Tejpal had to go through a three-month long proceeding at a court for tarnishing the reputation of the BSF. Yadav was also withdrawn from post retirement benefits.

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Dalit IAS Officer Shashi Karnawat announces to become a “Sanyasin”

Karnawat, who was promoted to IAS in 1999, received a five-year imprisonment by a Mandla district court in 2013 in a graft case

IAS officer Shashi Karnawat. Image source: facebook
  • Shashi Karnawat was promoted to IAS in 1999
  • Accused the MP Govt. of showing heavy “caste bias” against Dalits and tribal public servants
  • In 2013, received a five-year imprisonment by a Mandla district court  in a graft case

BHOPAL- IAS officer Shashi Karnawat, who has been under suspension since her conviction in a corruption case, announced her plans of becoming a “sanyasin” on Thursday, June 2.

Karnawat, who belongs to the Dalit community, had earlier accused the Madhya Pradesh government of showing heavy “caste bias” against Dalits and tribal public servants. Joining hands with Ramesh Thete, another Dalit IAS officer, Karnawat had participated in a dharna in January.

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Such allegations don’t come as a surprise at a time when already two IAS officers have borne the brunt in two separate incidents of praising the former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, said a PTI report.

Bhopal: IAS officer Shashi Karnavat speaks as Ramesh Thete (IAS) looks on during a dharna organised by Dalit-Adivasi Forum to protest against the alleged attrocities on Dalit and Adivasi in Madhya Pradesh, in Bhopal on Monday. Image source: PTI
Bhopal: IAS officer Shashi Karnavat speaks as Ramesh Thete (IAS) looks on during a dharna organised by Dalit-Adivasi Forum to protest against the alleged attrocities on Dalit and Adivasi in Madhya Pradesh, in Bhopal on Monday. Image source: PTI

“I have been running from pillar to post for justice since 2000. In my case, natural justice has been overlooked,” said Karnawat. The MP govt has been giving her a chase even after a jail sentence, and several notices during festivals like Diwali.

Karnawat, who was promoted to IAS in 1999, received a five-year imprisonment by a Mandla district court in 2013 in a graft case. She was later suspended. Karnawat got bail after she moved the High Court challenging her previous conviction.

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“I have taken a decision to renounce the world and become a sanyasin. One becomes powerful when he takes refuge in the Almighty. To conquer the downfall, to turn adversaries into victories, bothering into meditation and troubles into means to happiness, I am going to enter the spiritual realm shortly,” said Karnawat. She had been living in a state of penance by eating only one meal a day since her suspension 33 months ago.

 “The world outside has inflicted pains on me, but now I have discovered bountiful happiness inside,” Karnawat added.

-by Maariyah, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @MaariyahSid