Amidst the entire furore surrounding Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer DK Ravi’s death, the Karnataka government on Wednesday came out with a statement that left one a little perplexed. State Home Minister KJ George told the Karnataka assembly that Ravi had committed suicide due to ‘personal reasons’. Many suspect that the Congress-led state dispensation is trying to peddle this narrative to prevent a full disclosure of events. Whatever be the extenuating circumstances of Ravi’s death, it remains a fact that IAS officers who decide to take on vested interests are met with the sharp end of the stick.
According to Ravi’s colleagues in the Commercial Tax Department, the upstanding IAS officer was chasing builders in Bangalore, who had been evading taxes for years. They go onto claim that Ravi had collected more than Rs 100 crore in outstanding tax dues from these builders. Among some of the real estate companies he pursued were the Embassy Group, partly owned by state home minister KJ George, and Sobha Developers, which has close links with former minister DK Shivakumar. Is the Karnataka government’s decision, therefore, to leave the investigation to the State Criminal Investigation Department, which functions under the State Home Minister, a clear case of conflict of interest? Many members of opposition parties and civil society groups suspect foul play and have called for a Central Bureau of Investigation-led probe into the case.
In the interest of full disclosure, it would be wise on Chief Minister K Siddaramaiah’s part to allow a court-monitored CBI probe. The case has caught the attention of the national media. Before things get too uncomfortable for the current dispensation at the state, the chief minister must make way. The outpouring of grief at his demise in Kolar and Tumkur districts is further proof that this case will not die down anytime soon. At his earlier posting in Kolar, Ravi had been hailed as a hero by local populace for his work against the sand mafia in the region.