Siddaramaiah has turned Karnataka into a graveyard for bureaucrats

MK Ganapathy who committed suicide was one among the many officials who had been harassed by the government.

 |  8-minute read |   19-07-2016
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It appears that the Congress government in Karnataka led by Siddaramaiah has declared an all-out war against departments of his own government's administration. His special targets seem to be the IAS and the police departments.

The latest victim is Deputy SP MK Ganapathy who committed suicide on July 8 after blaming former home minister KJ George and senior police officers on live TV. This was followed by a statewide uproar with people taking to the streets in protest and the Opposition sitting in the Vidhana Soudha on an overnight dharna. The BJP has also threatened to raise the issue in Parliament.

Also read - Karnataka government is hounding cops into committing suicide

But first, consider these issues:

1. Sub Inspector Mallikarjun Bande, based out of Gulbarga, was gunned down by contract killer Munna Darbadar under suspicious circumstances. The needle of suspicion pointed towards an IGP named Wazir Ahmed.

2. Kallappa Handibag, Deputy SP of Chickmagalur committed suicide when he was accused of kidnap. His family accused some senior police officials of harassing him.

3. Anupama Shenoy, Deputy SP of Kudligi subdivision in Ballari district was victimised by district in-charge, minister Parameshwar Naik, for "putting his call on hold". Facing continual harassment as she claims, from the liquor lobby, she eventually resigned and took to social media to detail out her grievances.

ganapathy_071816091413.jpg MK Ganapathy had named former state home minister KJ George and three senior IPS officers as responsible in retrospect, for his suicide. 

4. DK Ravi, an IAS officer, committed suicide under mysterious circumstances in his Bangalore apartment which evoked nationwide outrage. It eventually led to KJ George being axed as home minister and moved to the Bangalore development ministry.

5. Rashmi Mahesh, an IAS officer, who headed the Administrative Training Institute in Mysore, was the victim of a politically motivated assault by goons because she exposed a Rs 100 crore scam at the ATI. As a reward, the government slapped a notice against her just five days after the incident.

6. C Shikha, the DC of Mysore was the target of intimidation and harassment from Marigowda, former zila panchyat president and reportedly close to the chief minister. This resulted in the citizenry taking to the streets in protest.

And now it was MK Ganapathy's turn.

If this is the plight of officers in the government, there's more that happened outside it.

Kuttappa who took part in a peaceful protest against Siddaramaiah's decision to celebrate Tipu Jayanti in Kodagu was brutally hacked to death by a horde of Muslim miscreants, according to a ground report by Samvada. However, the chief minister said Kuttappa died because "he slipped and fell down".

Then there's the Bajrang Dal activist, Prashant Poojary, who was murdered for taking on the cattle-smuggling mafia.

There's still more. VHP member K Raju from Mysore was killed in broad daylight by a Muslim biker gang. He was instrumental in helping build a temple in Kyatamaranahalli.

All these in a space of just two years: from 2014-2016.

Indeed, this laundry list of what is by Karnataka's scale, rampant murders, was essential to underscore the hell hole that Karnataka has become ever since Siddaramaiah took over as the chief minister.

Also read - What has Siddaramaiah to hide on Karnataka police officer's suicide?

Generally reputed as one of the most peaceful, progressive and prosperous states even during pre-independence days, Siddaramaiah has in a brief period achieved infamy for trying to systematically destroy each one of these distinctions.

The other name that figures in at least two of these high-profile deaths of government officers is that of former home minister KJ George.

In the case of DK Ravi, it was alleged that he was constantly under pressure for investigating the various real estate deals of various Congressmen including George.

Indeed, as journalist DP Satish shows in this report, George's forays into real estate dates back to the 1990s when as the urban development minister in S Bangarappa's cabinet, "he was accused of large scale land-grabbing", and "between 1999 and 2013, George was forced to keep a low profile because of many reasons. When the Congress returned to power in 2013, George surprised everybody by bagging the home portfolio... His rivals in the party point fingers at his connections in Delhi".

But more damaging is the interview that the now-dead Deputy SP Ganapathy has given to a Kannada news channel in which he names George and three senior IPS officers as responsible in retrospect, for his suicide.

The complete video (in Kannada) is really chilling. The allegations blow the lid wide open on the exact nature and extent of mafiadom in the government and administrative circles.

Indeed, if there's one minister that Siddaramaiah has steadfastly defended in both the Ganapathy and DK Ravi deaths, it is George.

In an op-ed written in the Kannada daily Vishwa Vani, Mysore-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha traces the rise of a powerful Karnataka politician - originally from Kerala - to his links with the timber mafia and now, the real estate mafia. For those in the state, it's not hard to decipher the name of this politician.

If this was not enough, the current home minister, G Parameshwara on July 11 shamelessly claimed on the floor of the Assembly that Ganapathy committed suicide because he "did not find satisfaction in his marital life" and that ill-treatment by Ganapathy's wife led to his death.

This truly disgusting statement was the latest in his flip flops that included claiming that Ganapathy's interview was itself fake.

Not too long ago, Karnataka police was ranked among the best.

It is to the credit of this force that the growth of the underworld in Bangalore to Mumbai-like proportions was ruthlessly and effectively checked in the 1990s.

Equally, it was this force that apprehended Rajiv Gandhi's murder-mastermind Sivarasan on the outskirts of Bangalore. Its role in the protracted Veerappan saga too deserves our grateful recognition.

One can list several such accomplishments but the point here is this effective force has now been mostly denuded of morale and increasingly, the department seems to have become a hotbed of corruption, intrigue, politicking and worse.

Consider the fact that early last month, there was a call for an open revolt of sorts when 50,000 police personnel applied for "harassment leave" en masse. The Deccan Chronicle's report on the incident reads thus:

"... more than 50,000 policemen across the state have already applied for 'harassment leave' on June 4... The police personnel are protesting against harassment by senior officers in the name of discipline."

It's a different matter that the revolt was crushed swiftly but the undeniable fact is that things shouldn't have been allowed to reach this stage in the first place. Indeed, it appears that politics in the police department has replaced the discharge of the duty of maintaining law and order.

The latest update on the Ganapathy suicide saga is that earlier on July 18, a local court ordered charges to be filed against George, AM Prasad (IG-Intelligence) and Pranab Mohanty (IGP-Lokayukta). This is the same George who flagrantly played the fake minority victimhood card claiming that he was being targeted because he is a Christian.

Two months ago, I wrote on this website that public perception across Karnataka is that Siddaramiah is the worst ever chief minister, and that his regime so far has been a "directionless mix of disastrous far-Left economic policies, wanton communal and caste divisiveness, unrestrained anti-Hinduism, sclerotic governance, rampant corruption, and near lawlessness".

As we now see, things have only gotten worse especially on the lawlessness front. It appears that the Siddaramaiah government is determined to hurtle Karnataka towards becoming the Bihar and Uttar Pradesh badlands of the south. That path towards this abyss is easy to descend to as former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav showed the world, but tremendously tough to climb up from.

Writer

Sandeep Balakrishna Sandeep Balakrishna @sandeepweb

The writer is a technologist, author of Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore, the English translator of SL Bhyrappa’s Aavarna, and independent scholar.

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