Two IAS officers and an officebearer of RPI (Athawale) turned a meeting of Dalit-Adivasi Forum in Bhopal Monday into a rallying point against MP government and the state Lokayukta, accusing them of bias against bureaucrats from lower castes.
The officers—Ramesh Thete and Shashi Karnawat — alleged that the government was gunning for them because of their caste. They claimed several upper caste and Brahmin officers were allegedly let off on similar charges.
Thete, an officer of 1993 batch, and Karnawat, promoted to IAS in 1999, face corruption charges. While Thete’s conviction in a graft case was set aside, Karnawat is under suspension after she was sentenced to a five-year jail term by an anti-corruption court in 2013.
Thete, who faces new charges of corruption after his reinstatement in 2011, warned state Lokayukta P P Naolekar of serious consequences unless he withdrew cases against him. “He has given a clean chit to bureaucrats and ministers (from upper castes),” he said. Accusing Naolekar of indulging in corrupt practices, Thete urged CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan to register a graft case against the Lokayukta and send him to jail.
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Naolekar could not be reached for a comment despite repeated attempts. The government had not reacted to the protest meeting till late night.
Thete, Secretary, State Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights, said he took part in the stir to articulate Babasaheb Ambedkar’s philosophy. Referring to his previous letters to the CM in which he demanded withdrawal of cases against him, payment of arrears and posting appropriate to his seniority, he threatened to go on a protest if he is slapped with even a showcause notice.
Claiming that he has no political axe to grind, he named officers in CMO who had apparently snubbed his claims for posting and wondered how all key departments are under their jurisdiction. Karnawat claimed she was framed in a false case and false testimony in court had led to her conviction, adding that her appeal against the conviction is pending in High Court where she is “confident of getting a favourable judgment”.
Naming an Indore-based officer, who is a Brahmin, Thete alleged that the bureaucrat faced charges similar to those faced by Karnawat but the government withdrew them. Mohan Patel, convener of the Forum and an office-bearer of the Republican Party of India (Athawale), threatened to make this a bigger movement unless the Lokayukta stops picking on bureaucrats from lower castes.