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Millennium Post

Protect the whistle-blowers

In what seems to be a tragic addition to the list of whistle-blowers who have been killed for bringing to light audacious cases of graft, SP Mahantesh, an administrative officer posted with the audit wing of the cooperative housing society department of the Karnataka government succumbed to his injuries yesterday. Five days ago he was brutally assaulted by a group of miscreants and suffered severe head injuries and was on life support for five days before his heart stopped early on Sunday. After Mahantesh took charge of the audit wing, case after case of corruption tumbled out from the closets of the housing society department, bringing to light the nexus between sections of the government and those who manage these societies. The death of this officer has put the BJP government of DV Sadananda Gowda in some embarrassment as this is the second incident of an honest officer getting killed because of exposing corruption in government circles. The chief minister has promised to look into the case and nab killers very soon. Unfortunately we just know too well this often-heard story. Soon the case will be out of public memory and the government, if it manages to find some small fish in this murky business will arrest him and make a public show, and in case some big fish is involved the case might well get a silent burial.

This will be seriously unfortunate because not only should such cases be investigated with genuine intent but also the government must show respect and responsibility for and towards those who are killed while trying to expose corruption, greed and thuggery in high places. The government must ensure, as Infosys founder Narayanmurthy has said in his reaction to this case, the security of honest young officers.

India in any case faces a crisis in the extensive, cross-country and endemic corruption that’s causing a huge loss to the country’s exchequer and to its credibility on the global stage. Those very few, handful actually, who do come out to use their position to expose those grievous acts instead of joining in the loot, should be seen as beacons by the government and at any cost they should be protected. If necessary, modifications should be made in the law for the protection of whistle-blowers as the existing legal regime has proven to be inadequate.  If the government shows its callousness for their security it is exposing further its helplessness in preventing further dissemination of what could be seen as a cancer.
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