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3 decades on,Class of ’79 reunites to fight for slain engineer

Three decades after they went their separate ways,the class of ’79 of IT-BHU (Institute of Technology,Banaras Hindu University) had a reunion of a different sort.

Written by Shalini Nair | Mumbai |
January 17, 2009 2:13:47 am

Manoj Kumar Gupta’s batchmates chalk out battle plan at IT-BHU reunion

 

Three decades after they went their separate ways,the class of ’79 of IT-BHU (Institute of Technology,Banaras Hindu University) had a reunion of a different sort.

From Delhi and Mumbai to the USA,they came to join hands with the sole objective of securing justice for the family of their slain batchmate Manoj Kumar Gupta.

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Gupta,an executive engineer with the Public Works Department in Uttar Pradesh was tortured,given electric shocks and beaten to death in Auraiya district last month. Local BSP MLA Shekhar Tiwari and his associates,arrested on the charges of murdering Gupta,were reportedly enraged at Gupta’s refusal to contribute money for BSP chief Mayawati’s birthday celebrations.

Several of Gupta’s batchmates have pledged to contribute money for issuing advertisements to keep Gupta alive in public memory while a few are trying to help by getting in touch with lawyers to fight the case. “All throughout,we are in constant touch with the family. Our first step is to ensure that Tiwari is punished. We will not give up,whether it takes three years or 30. Once this is done,we want to take up the larger issue of corruption and push for political reform,” said Vikas Suri,speaking on behalf of his batchmates.

Suri,who is managing director of multimedia firm at Powai,recalls Gupta as a good mimic who was active in dramatics in college. “I was not in touch with him for 15 years but one batchmate tells us he was involved in weeding out corruption during his earlier posting in Mathura,” he adds.

As part of their thorough preparations,the group has been in talks with those behind the fight for justice in the Manjunath murder case in UP (the IIM-Lucknow graduate,who was also a sales officer of Indian Oil Corporation,was killed trying to prevent a petrol pump from selling adulterated fuel). Plans are also afoot to meet and draw from the experiences of former IPS official Kiran Bedi,retired high court judges as well as the mother of Nitish Katara.

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“The extent of Tiwari’s clout is evident from the fact that of the 14 criminal cases lodged against him,which includes attempt to murder,the police dismissed 10 with Final Reports (FR). Taking the cue from the Jessica Lall case,we want to mobilise public support for the case even as our batchmates in Delhi are roping in their contacts in the political circles for the cause,” said Sunil Saraswat,a senior engineering executive in a multinational firm.

The class of ’79 has launched an online petition addressed to the Prime Minister demanding justice through an impartial and time-bound CBI inquiry into Gupta’s case. The petition that received more than 4,000 signatories within a week states,“His (Gupta’s) refusal to toe the line of the local MLA and award PWD contracts to people who would then siphon money off the public exchequer to fatten their own pockets and those of their political mentors,became his undoing.” It then goes on to state that “for very obvious reasons,the process of justice will be severely compromised if the local police continue to handle investigations into this dastardly crime” and hence an independent CBI inquiry should be conducted immediately.

For the IT-BHU, Gupta is the second alumnus to die fighting corruption. “It was only recently that we discovered that Satyendra Dubey had also done his M Tech from IT-BHU,” says Saraswat. Dubey was killed more than five years ago after having been the whistleblower against corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral highway project.

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First published on: 17-01-2009 at 02:13:47 am

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