Did IAS officer DK Ravi commit suicide after all?
Amid uproar over his mysterious death, which opposition parties have alleged is not an open and shut case of suicide as claimed by the police, new information indicates that he may have taken his own life after all.
Hindustan Times has published a series of WhatsApp messages purportedly sent by Ravi to a married female batchmate, where he apparently tells her that he ‘gives up’ this life, so that they can be together in the next, after she rejected his advances. HT says that these are a part of official records and were procured with the help of sources in Bengaluru police. Firstpost cannot vouch for the authenticity of the messages, which have also subsequently been put into the public domain by other media organisations.
The WhatsApp messages reproduced in the newspaper definitely paint the picture of a man obsessed with his friend. He makes outright declarations of love, pleads with her to reciprocate and also hints that he is thinking of taking his own life. “If at all there is a next life, we will be together. I am quitting”, the newspaper quotes one of the message as saying.
The HT report also reproduces excerpts from the police statement made by the female colleague in question, saying she had distanced herself after his ‘tone had changed’.
If this indeed proves to be the case, it will be seen as a vindication of the Congress government in Karnataka which has come under increasing pressure over his death. In the end, it took Sonia Gandhi to convince Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to allow a CBI probe into his death amid louder and louder cries of foul play. In the rush of sensationalism surrounding the WhatsApp messages, the government will be able to shrug its shoulders and reiterate the fact that they had nothing to do with his death.
But can DK Ravi’s suicide (if it indeed was proved to be the casel) merely be written off as the immature actions of a lovelorn man? There is plenty to suggest that his distressed state of mind may have been greatly influenced by the way he was treated by the government.
The IAS officer was under considerable pressure from the Congress-led state government. Firstpost reporter S Aravind said that when Ravi was prematurely transferred from Kolar, allegedly because of pressure from the sand mafia on the state government, to Bengaluru, the entire district was brought to a complete standstill. “Delegations from Kolar district tried to appeal to the government, but their efforts were in vain. I haven’t heard of any district shutting down for more than two days seeking the retention of a deputy commissioner”, he noted.
Ravi was subsequently posted as the Additional Commissioner (Enforcement) of Commercial Taxes Department in Bengaluru, where he had reportedly detected service tax evasion allegedly by more than a dozen realty firms, totaling about Rs 120 crore. He was in the process of recovering the dues from the firms when he allegedly committed suicide.
However it seems that Ravi’s transfer by the state government took a toll on him as well, especially given that he was effectively penalised for doing good work in Kolar. As Aravind pointed out, “One thing is for sure, Ravi would not have taken the extreme step had the state government not shunted him from one post to another under political pressure.”
The police statement by his friend and fellow lady IAS officer seems to confirm this.
The HT report quotes as her as saying that “he was restless after he was transferred to the commercial taxes department where he felt he did not have enough work”. The fact that according to her own submissions, that his ‘tone had changed’ only in the last few weeks of their acquaintance with one another, shows that his state of mind and actions may well have been influenced by the difficulties he was facing at work. According to the News Minute, which has also accessed a copy of her statement to the police, the “lady IAS officer states that they were friendly colleagues since 2009, and her husband was friendly with Ravi since last year, until he started acting strange in the weeks leading up to his death.”
According to the this Harvard article on stress and suicide, “Many suicides (estimates range from 30% to 80%) are impulsive, with just minutes or an hour elapsing between the time a person decides upon suicide and when he or she commits the act. Yet the stressful events that lead to suicidal thoughts are often temporary, such as losing a job or having a romantic relationship end”
In the case of DK Ravi, the evidence so far points to a toxic mix of both a stressful and disheartening career pressure as well as the rejection of his declarations of love. We may never know the truth of exactly what happened, but one thing remains clear: Even if Ravi’s death turns out to be a case of suicide, it is not a clean chit for the Congress government. The cause of his death neither changes the wrongdoing he uncovered, or the shameful way he was treated for doing his job with integrity and honour.