Two officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) participated in a demonstration against the Madhya Pradesh government on Monday, the first time such an incident has taken place in the administrative history of the state.
The officers in question — Ramesh Thete (1993 batch), presently posted as secretary of the child rights commission, and Shashi Karnawat (1999 batch), presently under suspension — participated in a dharna organised by a body representing the cause of dalits and tribals, alleging that the MP government was selectively taking action against officers from the SC and ST community.
“I have come among my people. There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents me from meeting them. In case the state government issued a notice to me, I will go on a fast unto death,” Thete said at the dharna, daring the state government to take action against him.
“In case I die, my body should be taken for 5 minutes to the CM House to say thank you for what has been done to me. It should also be taken to the secretariat for all IAS officers to see since no one from the fraternity came forward to support me,” he added, targeting Lokayukta PP Naolekar and alleging that he was being singled out because he was a Dalit.
Congress spokesperson KK Mishra and other leaders of the party were also present.
Thete had earlier been dismissed from the IAS on charges of being caught accepting a bribe in 2002. His dismissal was set aside by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Karnawat was convicted in a corruption case in September 2013. She was sent to jail but secured bail later. In December, the MP government had forwarded a proposal, seeking permission for prosecuting Thete in a corruption case to the Union ministry’s department of personnel. Thete had then threatened to fast unto death if he were arrested.
The dalit adivasi forum has a 10-point charter of demands, including the appointment of a dalit or tribal as the next Lokayukta and a ban on re-employment after retirement. Noting that dalits and adivasis make up 36% of the MP population, they have demanded that their community’s representation in the cabinet should be increased. Dalits and adivasis currently make up only 8% of the state cabinet.