Group President, Group Managing Director & Editor In Chief: Dr.Shelly Ahmed

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Death By Honesty: Was IAS Officer Ravi Blackmailed For Exposing Corruption Or Forced To Commit 'Suicide'?

The alleged suicide of IAS officer D.K. Ravi in Karnataka’s Kolar district has put the spotlight on the vulnerability of those civil servants who decide to take on corruption. 

The circle of civil servants in Delhi is abuzz with the phenomenon called a “midnight knock” which comes in the form of news about a transfer followed by the orders the next morning. 

Transfers have been the most potent weapon in the hands of the political bosses to make civil servants fall in line. 

It is no secret that the tentacles of corruption are spread in a manner that makes it impossible to break the nexus that engulfs the system. D.K. Ravi is the latest victim of the ugly side of upsetting the applecart. 

And the response from the government in the latest case has been on the predicted lines. While the state government is dithering on ordering a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Centre is trying to find a way out.

The issue has assumed political dimensions as the Congress government wants to avoid the CBI intervention. 

Union Law Minister Sadanand Gowda, who belongs to Karnataka, has sought a legal opinion on the modalities of ordering a CBI probe. 
Either the state government can transfer the case to the central agency or the court can order it. 

With the image of the state government taking a beating as the alleged suicide has caused a national outrage, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has also sought a report from Karnataka Chief Minister S. Siddaramaiah. 
A senior IAS officer said that D.K Ravi’s death is being portrayed as a suicide case, but it cannot be ignored that he had taken on the powerful land mafia in the district.

As it happens in such cases, the official said, an independent probe is the only way to make any headway to solve this case. 

Meanwhile, D.K Ravi has joined the long list of bureaucrats who have found themselves at the receiving end because of the tough stand taken by them. 

Vested interests employ all methods to get such officers out of their way. Though getting them transferred is the easiest option, many have even lost their lives. 

Questions are also being raised about strengthening the anti-corruption mechanisms to ensure that complaints from such whistleblowers are taken to its logical end. 

There is an overall apathy in the sense that key corruption watchdog posts at the Centre are lying vacant. There has been no appointment to the post of Central Information Commissioner (CIC) that has been lying vacant for months and the hunt is also on for new Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC). 

A young civil servant, on condition of anonymity, said the power play gets evident right at the start as he narrated his own account. He was ordered by his political masters to stop a demolition drive he had initiated some years ago. 

Two days after young IAS officer D.K. Ravi was found dead under mysterious circumstances at his Bengaluru residence, the police stumbled upon some crucial details. 

The police suspect that the officer, who had earned a good reputation for being upright, could be a victim of blackmail tactics from people with vested interests. 

According to a source in the Bengaluru police, anonymous callers had tipped the officer about a CD that was sent to his office on Monday. 

The police officers probing Ravi’s death had a detailed conversation with the officer’s wife, his father-in-law Hanumantharayappa, friends and colleagues on Monday. 

“Preliminary investigation points towards anonymous people, who had called up Ravi on Sunday and Monday morning and threatened him with a CD. We were told that Ravi had lost his cool on Sunday after receiving the phone calls. We are tracking down the people who called up Ravi on Sunday and Saturday,”  police sources told INNLIVE. 

Apparently, Ravi and three of his friends were travelling in a car from his home at Nagarabhavi on Sunday afternoon when he received the call. The officer asked his friends to stop the car and got out to answer the call. It is said he walked away from the car and spoke for several minutes. 
Sources said his conversation with the caller eventually turned into a heated argument.

“The same person called Ravi twice again on Sunday evening. He seemed very disturbed and told wife that they were threat calls. He was agitated and did not talk much to his family members. On Monday morning, he again received a call and was informed about a CD lying on his desk at the office. The caller asked Ravi to go through the content of the CD. That’s when Ravi left the office,” the source said. 

After leaving the office, Ravi, who was probing tax evasion by top builders and reality firms, remained incommunicado and was found dead in the evening. 

The police are not sure if the CD had reached the officer. 

“We came to know about the CD through his friends and family members. We are not even sure if such a CD existed and what is its content. We don’t know if Ravi watched it or someone destroyed it,” the sources said. 

The police have taken the possession of Ravi’s smartphone and laptop, but were unable to access the call logs or his email since both devices are protected with passwords. 

“We have sent it to labs to unlock them. The call logs and emails will provide us vital clues,” the sources said. 

The Karnataka government, which declared that D.K. Ravi committed suicide owing to personal problems, faced the wrath of the young officer’s family members on Wednesday. 

The deceased officer’s father-in-law Hanumantharayappa hit out at the investigators, claiming that all was well with his son-in-law’s family. 

“An impression is being created that there was some kind of discord in the family. My daughter and son-in-law led a contended life. These rumors are baseless. If at all he has committed suicide, there has to be a strong reason behind it. The police have to conduct a thorough probe,” Hanumantharayappa said. 

A leader of the Janata Dal (Secular), Hanumantharayappa unsuccessfully contested the last Assembly elections. Former chief minister Jagadish Shettar lashed out at the police  for dubbing it a suicide. 

“How can they jump to a conclusion that it is a suicide even before the autopsy is conducted? The police should behave responsibly. This is not the way to react to a high profile case,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the IAS Officers’ Association of Karnataka has reportedly demanded a CBI probe into Ravi’s death. 

“As the issue is still before the government, we will wait and watch,” a representative of the Association, said.
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