Do you have to be mad to fight corruption in India?
The sad story of Kallol Sur caught my eye over the weekend, a local official who apparently hanged himself after blowing the whistle on corruption in India’s flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
According to The Sunday Express , Sur, a block development officer — a local bureaucrat — in the eastern state of West Bengal, complained of “immense political pressure” after exposing graft in the scheme.
Sur had apparently first uncovered corruption by officials from the ruling Communist Party (Marxist), and then by others from the opposition Trinamool Congress.
Sur’s father alleges that his son’s body was “hurriedly cremated” and never handed over to him.
One of the men who Sur had accused said the official was “clearly mad”, the Express reported. The local police superintendent said Sur was suffering from schizophrenia.
I have no way of knowing the truth behind Sur’s death, and don’t want to accuse anyone of dirty tricks. But I hope the state government conducts a proper investigation into the corruption allegations.
And remember too, this would not be first time whistle blowers have come under immense pressure, or met sudden death. Remember Satyendra Dubey, shot dead after exposing corruption in the building of India’s National Highways? Or Shanmughan Manjunath of the Indian Oil Corporation, shot dead after closing two petrol stations which he found to be selling adulterated fuel?
In the aftermath of Sur’s death, I was wondering: as a bureaucrat in India, do you have to be mad to expose the corruption going on around you?