“I have zero faith in the state Congress government investigations and only have faith in the central government”, this was a crying mother’s last hope, a mother who had given education to her son despite biting poverty, a mother whose son had made her proud by passing the country’s highest civil services exams and becoming an IAS officer, a mother who had lost her son just two days ago to the jungle-raj of Bangalore. This is the state of Karnataka, once known for its rule of law and order. A state which was often considered in the past as a model to follow for other states. An honest IAS officer’s sudden and suspicious death has created a vicious circle of nine events that paint a sorry picture of Karnataka which is now a jungle of builders, land-sharks, mafia and the corrupt.
Event 1: Within an hour after IAS officer D.K. Ravi’s body is found hanging in his upscale apartment building at Koramangala, the place is swarming with VIPs, politicians, MLAs, builders, land-sharks and all and sundry because the local police does not deem it fit to cordon off the crime scene. In fact, Home Minister K.J. George is one of the first visitors to the place. D.K. Shivakumar a powerful minister in the government and a well-known land-grabber of South Bangalore region is also at the crime scene because D.K. Ravi’s father-in-law is a close associate of Shivakumar. The irony is that D.K. Ravi was a strict IAS officer in the commercial tax department and was known to have given many tax fraud notices to some of these powerful realty tycoons who were present at the crime scene within minutes of Ravi’s suspicious death. What sort of an investigation can we expect in this case when the crime scene itself was tampered with by the very people from whom it must have been protected?
Event 2: Within three hours of finding D.K. Ravi’s body, Police Commissioner of Bangalore, M.N. Reddi proclaims in front of the media that the IAS officer had committed suicide. Any person with even half brains would wonder how the cop concluded so quickly about the nature of death without conducting an investigation, especially considering the fact that the IAS officer was well known to have troubled many powerful people through his tax raids recently. In fact, lawyer and eminent women’s activist, Pramila Nesargi, has alleged that Commissioner M.N. Reddi has an ‘indirect’ stake in one of the famous realty firms which was raided by D.K. Ravi as commercial tax officer.
Event 3: Congress MLA, K.M. Narayanaswamy of Bangarpet and Kolar MLA, Varthur Prakash reportedly celebrated the death of D.K. Ravi by distributing sweets to their followers. It must be recalled here that both these MLA’s, especially the former, were instrumental in getting Ravi transferred from Kolar last October as he had proved to be the nemesis for their sand and land mafia activities involving Confident Group (a well-known realty company in this region which is rumoured to have U.T. Khader, the state health minister, as one of the stake holders).
Event 4: CM Siddramaiah, Health Minister, U.T. Khader and Medical Education Minister, Dr Sharan Prakash Patil, visit the site of post-mortem at Victoria hospital apparently to pay their last respects to the body of D.K. Ravi. Victoria hospital is a government institute and a den of corruption and intrigue where the writ of the Health Minister and the Medical Education Minister runs large. It is a well-known fact that government hospital doctors are in great fear of Health Ministers as their professional livelihoods and extra-earning (through under-hand corruption at government hospitals) depend on the largesse of the minister. Furthermore, there is clear past precedence in the case of Sunanda Pushkar murder where a government hospital doctor of as high an institute as AIIMS was forced to give a false report by powerful people in the then ruling government led by the same Congress party. In fact, former CM, Kumaraswamy has alleged in very clear terms that the CM visited Victoria hospital in order to affect the autopsy report.
Event 5: A day after the suicide/murder of D.K. Ravi, the state home minister, K.J. George, makes a statement in the assembly that this “suicide was due to personal reasons”. Within 18 hours of an honest officer’s death, the state government had conclusively arrived at the reason of the death even before a basic autopsy report could be obtained.
Event 6: In the same assembly session opposition parties alleged that D.K. Ravi had given a tax fraud notice of 40 Cr rupees to Embassy group (another rich and powerful realty firm famous for many land grab cases) which had direct links with the Home Minister K.J. George’s family. The same K.J. George had concluded in the assembly that D.K. Ravi’s death was “due to personal reasons”.
Event 7: Everybody including the opposition, the media, the intelligentsia, the parents of the dead IAS officer and even the Congress party high-command demanded that the state government immediately hand over the case to CBI, but CM Siddaramaiah and his state government steadfastly refused to budge and insisted on a state CID enquiry which works under the same K.J. George. If the government has nothing to hide, just why it should refuse a CBI probe? There are clear allegations from many former cops that even if CBI is given the case at a later date, by then much of the evidence would be either “lost or tampered with” by the local agencies and that this is just a delaying tactic that buys the government some more time.
Event 8: The poor agrarian parents of D.K. Ravi undertake a sit-in protest in front of the Vidhan Soudha demanding a CBI probe. The government is taken aback and asks D.K. Shivakumar to immediately summon the dead IAS officer’s father in law, Hanumanthaiah, who drops by at the Vidhan Soudha and manages to convince the poor parents of Ravi to leave their protest site. The government’s CID probe is now virtually without any obstacle. The Siddaramaiah government then suddenly transfers CID IGP Pronab Mohanty who was known for his integrity and investigative skills and was supposed to overlook the investigation of Ravi’s murder.
Event 9: Within a day of handing over the case to CID, the media is awash with the “jilted lover” theory which essentially involves a lady IAS officer who is supposed to have been the last person to have called D.K. Ravi at around 11 AM on the day of his death. The theory goes that Ravi had marital problems and was allegedly “in love” with a batchmate and a fellow lady IAS officer. No lesser a person than the CM himself makes disparaging remarks about the honest, dead IAS officer by asking such shameless questions as to “why was the lady IAS officer calling Ravi so many times?” The plot thickens. J.N. Jayashree, the wife of another very honest and upright IAS officer of Karnataka M.N. Vijayakumar, who is herself a crusader against corruption and runs an anticorruption website, has an interesting take on this new “jilted lover” theory. Jayashree says that the mafia raj in Karnataka is so strong that they keep devising newer innovative ways to stop the honest officers from functioning. In fact, one of the ways, says Jayashree, “is to honey-trap using other lady officers, which was also tried on my husband”. Media stories indicate that a clear angle of “marital issues” would be invoked in order to prove the “suicide due to personal reasons” theory originally floated by K.J. George. In order to lend credence to this story, D.K. Ravi’s father-in-law, a congressman himself, may be used as a fait accompli in the coming days, suggest some police sources.
Those poor simpleton parents of D.K. Ravi who know not the ways in which Bangalore’s power politics operates, they will in all probability never get justice. It is indeed a crime to be honest in Karnataka, what is even bigger a crime is to be a honest Hindu officer from a poor rural background. Not only did a honest IAS officer pay the ultimate price of honesty with his life, but also he has to pay some more after death as the state government is hell-bent on character assassinating him. The government of Siddharamaiah is packed with such luminaries, just look at the cast of characters involved in the events narrated above – D.K. Shivakumar, K.J. George, U.T. Khader, Narayanswamy – when such are the people who rule the state how can Karnataka not fall into the morass of a mafia raj?
Is there no hope for this state then? Today, at Vidhana Soudha’s western gate, a constable, K.M. Nagaraj refused to salute the Chief Minister when he walked into the building. Although such a behaviour by the police force cannot be condoned, it was an act of defiance in the wake of such a blatant death of an honest officer. In that act of defiance is Karnataka’s anguished cry against the mafia raj which Congress has unleashed upon the state and especially on the city of Bangalore. In that act of defiance is the hope that politicians will realize sooner rather than later that their murderous, plundering days are numbered.