Bowing to mounting public pressure, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today decided to hand over to CBI the probe into the mysterious death of an upright IAS officer...
Bowing to mounting public pressure, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today decided to hand over to CBI the probe into the mysterious death of an upright IAS officer that had led to national outrage and state-wide protests.
The Chief Minister made the announcement in the Assembly, saying he was referring the case to CBI honouring the feelings of parents of officer D K Ravi and public sentiments.
“I understand the feelings of Ravi’s parents…. We respect public sentiments..,” Siddaramaiah said, adding, the government was keen that the truth should be brought out and culprits punished.
He also asserted that the government never wanted to hush up the case nor did it intend to protect anyone.
“…We believe in people’s power. We believe in respecting public sentiments,” said the Chief Minister who was facing rising public anger and growing clamour for a CBI probe.
The family of 35-year old Ravi, who had made a mark as a bold officer and taken on the sand and land mafia besides ordering crackdown on tax evaders, had suspected foul play and demanded an inquiry by the central agency.
Opposition BJP and JDS had also launched an offensive against the Siddaramaiah government with public protests also raging statewide ever since the death of Ravi on Monday last, when police had suspected it to be prima facie a case of suicide. Initially rejecting calls for a CBI probe, the government had said that a CID inquiry would do and had planned to table an interim report of Criminal Investigation Department in the Assembly.
But its plans did not materialise as the Karnataka High Court last evening restrained the state government from publishing any interim report of CID into the “unnatural death” of Ravi.
Ravi was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his room at his flat on Monday last, with Police Commissioner M N Reddi saying it was prima facie a case of suicide, which raised a huge storm of controversy.
The parents of Ravi had staged protest in front of the Vidhana Soudha, with the family bent upon a CBI probe to get “justice” for him.
In his reply in the Assembly, Siddaramaiah trained his guns on the Opposition for “playing politics” over the death of an an honest and efficient officer, a remark that set off protests by BJP and JDS members.
“No politics should be played in the matter of death. We don’t believe in it. The Opposition should also not do it,” he said.
He said the government was never obstinate that the matter should not be handed over to CBI.
“We believe in our police system…..I had never said anything differently about CBI. It was the Opposition which used to call CBI as ‘Chor Bachao Institution’…as ‘Congress Bachhao Institution’…But I never made any such remark. CBI is an independent agency and so is our CID…,” he said. Siddaramaiah said he had planned to table the CID interim report but could not do so because of the High Court order.
Maintaining that his government never brought pressure on any officer and believed in providing a conducive working atmosphere for them, he said, “We believe in our system, judiciary and democracy… we will never show disrespect to judiciary….we believe in the rule of law..”
Siddaramaiah also said there had never been a case where an incident had straightaway been referred to CBI immediately after its occurrence. With the federal set-up in the country, the Centre could not refer a case suo motu to CBI and could do so based on a state’s request, he said.
He taunted the BJP, saying it had not referred even a single case to the central agency during its five year rule in the state.
The Chief Minister said the state CID was also efficient and handing over the probe to another agency would affect their morale, which was why he had been saying that they should be allowed to carry out their investigation first.
He had also assured the parents of Ravi that after receiving the report of CID and post mortem, he would take a decision on handing over the case to CBI.
The CM said Ravi was an honest and efficient officer and that was the reason why he transferred him from Kolar to Bengaluru as Additional Commissioner of Commercial Taxes (Enforcement)based on the request of his father-in-law.
Ravi had become a very popular Deputy Commissioner of Kolar district, where he had ruffled the feathers of several politicians and sand mafia with his crackdown. Known for his pro-people image, his transfer from Kolar in October last had set off protests.As the Assembly met, BJP and JDS members were in the well of the House raising slogans against the government accusing it of trying to hush up the case and demanding a CBI probe.
Both parties had stalled the proceedings since Tuesday last, insisting on a CBI probe and were holding protests, besides seeking Governor Vajubhai Vala’s intervention to advise the Chief Minister to entrust the case to the central agency.
Before his statement in the Assembly, the Chief Minister held a Council of Ministers meeting on the issue.
The Chief Minister’s announcement was immediately welcomed by the family of Ravi.
“…truth has to come out… fair investigation has to happen. People of this state and this country should know the truth, this was our demand. Government has accepted our demand and handed over the investigation to CBI, I thank everyone for this,” Ravi’s father-in-law Hanumantharayappa said.
“….Ravi is not a person who will commit suicide. Talks about his suicide cannot be true. CBI has to investigate from all the angles to bring out the truth. Our family and Ravi’s family will completely cooperate with CBI,” he said.
Siddaramaiah had earlier lashed out at the Opposition parties, particularly JDS, accusing it of trying to derive political mileage out of the incident.
He had also dismissed JDS leader H D Kumaraswamy’s charge that a woman IAS officer, a batchmate of Ravi, was being harassed. “The question of harassing does not arise at all. The charge is concocted and fabricated,” he had said.
The Opposition parties had accused the government of tarnishing the image of the officer by citing “personal reasons” for his death and selectively leaking out “stories” casting aspersions.
The CM had also come under Opposition attack for his reported remark in an interview to a Kannada newspaper that Ravi had made 44 calls to his batchmate woman IAS officer on the day of his death.
With the issue snowballing, several IAS officers in Karnataka had come out openly and signed an online petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi pressing for a CBI probe.