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Death of the Suspended ‘Mining Official’…

Death is always a tragedy, more so, for a family. And death by suicide is more tragic because it leaves a lot of unanswered questions and puts the family under tremendous burden for the rest of their life finding out the answer to ‘why’.

D K Bhave was a suspended mining official. His colleagues in the mining department say that he was certainly one of the most efficient and upright officers in the Department of Mines and Geology, Goa. The government, on the contrary is of the opinion that being a senior officer most NOCs for mining files were cleared by the deceased mining official, therefore he cannot be painted a saint and his suspension is justified as well as within the ambit of the government jurisdiction and responsibility. Maybe Bhave is not a saint, his colleagues paint him to be and maybe he is not a sinner that the government in particular the Chief Minister would like us to believe.  But he under no circumstances deserved to die and that too by taking his own life. I am led to believe that the circumstances had to have been compelling enough for a husband and a father of two young children to take such a drastic step.

GoaChronicle.com investigations through interaction with the family and other colleagues who spent time with him during the last few days (including the other suspended mining officials) has learnt that the opinion of most family and colleagues is that it was not so much the ‘suspension order’ that triggered the humiliation and depression in Bhave’s mind. But, rather it was what transpired at the South Goa Collector’s office that led to the tragedy.

Firstly, having read the suspension order, I still cannot understand why the Director of Mines, Prasanna Acharya would ask the suspended officials to report to the South Goa Collectorate office, when that office has no relation to their jobs. If at all they were to report somewhere it could have been to the Personnel Department or even the CMs office. When GoaChronicle.com questioned the CM on this issue, his curt reply was that he did not want the suspended officials to tamper with official data by being in the DMG office. An accepted logic, but I do not see the reasoning in reporting to the South Goa’s Collectorate office and strangely the CM did not have an answer.

Having got there, South Goa Collector, Agrawal makes to most insensitive, condescending and inappropriate statement to all suspended officials. His statement was ‘We have made special seating arrangement for you lovely people’. And then proceeded to place them in the control room at the South Goa Collectorate office, made to sit from 8 am to 7pm on plastic chairs, doing absolutely nothing, and recording their attendance four times a day. The control room is at the entrance of the South Collectorate office, in full view of public gaze. And people walking in did comment and question about the suspended officials. While some of the mining officials had the stomach to go through this unusual humiliation, Bhave did not and saw it as a stigma, which left him depressed, though he said nothing to his family, he did certainly mention it to his fellow colleagues.

Some people in the government who I spoke too, would like to float a story that Bhave was consumed by guilt because of his illegal acts and out of shame committed suicide. Yet another reasoning was that maybe Bhave had many secrets and dealings with the mining lobby, therefore the pressure to keep quiet was enormous on him, which took a toll on his mental state of mind.

Having visited his house and met his grieving family, I could not see the wealth that would otherwise have manifested itself in the house or belongings; the children and wife carried themselves as normal middle-class individuals, even the tiles in the house seemed old and rustic like it was when the house was constructed in 1994. That wealth should have manifested itself somewhere. So I am not convinced that Bhave made a killing clearing NOCs to support illegal mining. Corruption is done to at least improve one’s basic wants in life.  But strangely some officials who have not been suspended and also mentioned in the Shah Commission report like Shyam Sawant and Ramakant Shetgaonkar lifestyle tells a different story.

Bhave’s death has got both Congress and BJP playing their political games; which started from the Congress. Jitendra Deshprabhu, Congress spokesperson, voiced aggressively that he would file an F.I.R. against Parrikar. Sudip Tamankar, the non-official spokesperson of the Goa Congress beat him to the act and filed the F.I.R. But interestingly none of them have personally met the Bhave family, though Deshprabhu claims to have spoken to the family on the telephone. And neither has anyone for the government such Dr Wilfred Mesquitha and Damodar Naik who decided to attack the Congress on the Bhave issue visited the family. CM too did not think it appropriate to visit the bereaved family, though he spent sometime planting trees in some places of Goa.

In my opinion Tamankar’s complaint is the most absurd complaint I have read, and his reference to the Shah Commission report trying to bring R Shetgaonkar to the purview to show partiality of the CM, itself shows that in those cases Shetgaonkar did the right thing. More importantly, I cannot understand how can Tamankar (who getting to be a laughing stock with each passing day and putting the Congress in a huge embarrassment) act on behalf and interest of the family, when he never even bothered to pay a condolence visit to them. In the words of Bhave’s daughter Namrata, “My father’s death has now become a political mud slinging match.”

So it is amply clear that Congress is only milking the opportunity to strike back at Parrikar very hesitatingly . And when the heat got too much, Congress decided to let Tamankar to fend for himself declaring that he has not done it as a party member but as an individual. BJP leaders on the other hand will now strike back at the Congress in the coming days with some action and something tells me Parrikar will somehow reopen Deshprabhu’s illegal mining issue.

The thing that left me thinking and disturbed was the tears of the family and words of Namrata Bhave, “we have never experienced police in our house, but today for the first time we answering questions of the police and inquiry officials for hours and all that I can see is my dead father and I cannot help but feel devastated.”
After that I had no more questions…

 

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