by Aravind S Kamal

Bangalore: Was the young IAS officer DK Ravi (Karnataka cadre), who allegedly committed suicide, a victim of circumstances or facing some personal problems?

Whatever be the motive for his death under mysterious circumstances might be, a fact that stands out in the whole process is that Karnataka is not a place for honest and dedicated bureaucrats.

Ever since he was drafted into the Karnataka cadre in 2009 after securing a rank of 34 in the all-India merit list for civil services examinations, Ravi went on to win accolades and nothing else.

DK Ravi: PTIDK Ravi: PTI

DK Ravi: PTI

His first assignment was Assistant Commissioner, Kalburgi sub-division; later, he was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer, Koppala Zilla Panchayat. Both postings were in the harsh environment of North Karnataka, a place that seasoned bureaucrats stay away from.

Though his stint in North Karnataka remained publicity-free, it was his work as the deputy commissioner of Kolar, one of the most backward and parched districts of Karnataka that brought him into the limelight.

In Kolar district, he fought for the rights of the oppressed classes; was accessible to people 24×7; daringly took on the sand mining mafia which had the tacit support of the local district politicians; curtailed encroachment of government lands; walked into Dalits’ homes and had food, and even danced to folk songs at local festivals!

To sum up, Ravi integrated himself into the local fabric with ease wherever he was posted and became the darling of the people by implementing social welfare schemes in spirit and deed.

In just one year of his service in Kolar district, a politically volatile region, Ravi’s popularity was higher than that of any local politician or elected representative. His premature transfer from Kolar, allegedly because of pressure from the sand mafia on the state government, to Bangalore, brought the entire district 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.

When he was posted as the Additional Commissioner (Enforcement) of Commercial Taxes Department in Bengaluru, Ravi continued his good work by detecting service tax evasion allegedly by more than a dozen reality firms, totaling about Rs 120 crore. He was in the process of recovering the dues from the reality firms when he allegedly committed suicide.

On Tuesday, the budget session of the legislature witnessed uproarious scenes with the Opposition terming Ravi’s death as “unnatural and murder”.

Was the land mafia behind the incident? Were any of the real estate firms responsible for his death? Did all these unwanted developments act as a pressure cooker prompting Ravi to take the extreme step? The truth will be revealed only once the police complete the probe. But the Opposition does not want to settle for anything other than an impartial probe by the CBI.

“Ravi’s death has created a hostile environment for the rest of the bureaucrats. If this is the reward for honesty, bureaucrats will think twice before taking on the high and mighty. There are vested interests behind the mysterious death of Ravi,” former CM and Opposition Leader (BJP) Jagadish Shettar said.

Shettar seems to be right because ever since the Congress has assumed power in Karnataka, honest officers have been at the receiving end of government targeting.

Senior IAS officer Rashmi Mahesh was beaten up by miscreants with footwear in the heritage city of Mysuru, and the probe into that case is proceeding at snail’s pace. Sub-registrar Cheluvaraju from the Chief Minister’s hometown Mysuru resigned from government service contending that corruption could never be curtailed as long as politicians patronized it.

A police officer, who targeted Siddaramaiah’s son before the assembly elections in 2013, was suspended for a trivial reason after the Congress assumed power. Three other government servants, who took on the sand mafia, were transferred out of their respective positions in the last two months.

Ravi is known to be a committed and dedicated officer, who did not think twice before taking on influential people. So, what could have prompted him to commit suicide without even leaving a suicide note?

The circumstances surrounding his death have led to plenty of speculations (he remained incommunicado to all from 11:30 am to 5:30 pm on Monday). It is said that three unidentified people met him the day he committed suicide. But the probe has not revealed their identity.

Though Ravi never spoke in public about the threats he allegedly received from the sand mafia or the builders, it is said that he confided to his colleagues and friends about them in private.

Ravi did not even think it important to lodge a police complaint regarding the threats.

Had he lodged a complaint, would that have pointed fingers at the accused? So far, the victim’s family has not revealed whether Ravi was facing any personal problems. 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.

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Mysterious death of IAS officer DK Ravi: Why is Karnataka a dangerous place for honest officers?