Die young: The honest officers who take on the corrupt

DECCAN CHRONICLE | AFTAB KHAN
Published Mar 22, 2015, 2:32 pm IST
Updated Mar 29, 2019, 2:35 pm IST
G Krishnaiah (top left), Yeshwant Sonawane (bottom left), Satyendra Dubey (right) (Photo: PTI)
 G Krishnaiah (top left), Yeshwant Sonawane (bottom left), Satyendra Dubey (right) (Photo: PTI)

Road Mafia

Satyendra Dubey was an Indian Engineering Service (IES) officer and was a project director with the National Highways Authority of India at Koderma. He was murdered in Gaya, Bihar, in November 2003 for fighting corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral highway construction project, a matter on which he had written a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office.

 

The murder — the 30-year-old was found shot dead on the roadside — was made to look like a robbery gone wrong when Dubey was taking a rickshaw home from Gaya rail station, but when the CBI took over the case from Bihar police, witnesses — such as rickshaw puller Pradeep Kumar — began to disappear, two other suspects were found dead — poisoned — just a day after they were questioned, and Mantu Kumar, the man who had actually fired the shot at Dubey and who was arrested much later, escaped from the court premises in Patna while the case was being heard! Given these indicators of a mafia at work, with police complicity, the Supreme Court began to oversee the investigations into the allegations raised by Dubey. Several officials were indicted and a technical team began overseeing the Golden Quadrilateral project.  

 

Oil Mafia

On January 25, 2011, 11 men burned Deputy Collector Yashwant Sonawane to death after he tried to apprehend one of them for siphoning off fuel on the Manmad-Nandgaon Road. The accused included notorious gangster from the oil mafia Popat Shinde and his sons Kunal and Vikas.

Sonawane had been investigating the pilferage of petroleum products by the oil mafia — active in Panewadi, Manmad — where a huge oil depot had been constructed. Sonawane died on the spot while the alleged attacker Popat, who also sustained burns, died four days later. The police arrested 11 men, including a tanker driver.

 

The case was later handed over to the CBI, which filed a 3,400-page chargesheet in a Malegaon court in Nashik district. Defence lawyer Rahul Kasliwal said that there were two cases, one tried in the Malegaon court and the other tried by the Juvenile Board in Nashik city as Kunal was a minor when the incident occurred. Special CBI prosecutor Vishwas Parakh said that Kunal jumped bail and was reported absconding. He was later externed from Manmad town.

Sonawane’s widow has not yet recovered from the trauma. A relative, who spoke to this newspaper said that the family had given up on the outcome of the case when prime accused Popat died four days after Sonawane. “The remaining accused are sure to tell the court that Popat alone killed Sonawane and that they were not involved. When the case started, we used to go to court eagerly but now, we don’t follow it,” she said.

 

The murderous Neta

On December 5, 1994, Gopalganj District Magistrate G. Krishnaiah was lynched and shot dead at Khabra in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, by a mob that was instigated by former Bihar MP Anand Mohan, once a dreaded don in the state’s Kosi region. The IAS officer was just 35.

The mob was protesting against the killing of a supporter of the now defunct Bihar People’s Party (BPP). Mohan was then an MLA and his wife Lovely Anand an MP, and they headed the BPP. The courts found, on the basis of eye-witnesses, that Mohan had exhorted gangster Bhutkan Shukla, brother of the dead party supporter Chhotan Shukla, to kill Krishnaiah.

 

In October 2007 — 13 years after the murder — a trial court handed out the death sentence to Mohan and two others and life sentences to four others, including Lovely Anand. The High Court later commuted the death sentences to life terms and acquitted the four who had been given life sentences, including three leaders of the JD(U). In July 2012, the SC upheld the life sentence to Mohan and set aside the acquittals.

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