Dalit IAS officer Shashi Karnawat, who is under suspension and now out on bail in a corruption case, has decided to become a sanyasin.
Karnawat told HT that she took the decision after spending 34 days at the Simhastha fair.
“I have made up my mind to be sanyasin. I have even filled jeevan samarpan form (life dedication form) of one of the akharas, whose name I don’t want to reveal at present. I am looking forward to be accepted as a sanyasin by the akahara. I hope it will be reality later this year,” she said.
Karnawat, who was promoted to the IAS in 1999, was sentenced to five years in jail by Mandla district court in 2013 in a corruption case (zila panchayat printing scam of 1999-2000).
She is under suspension since then. At the time of suspension, she was the deputy secretary in youth and sports welfare department. The Madhya Pradesh high court later admitted a petition challenging her conviction. She is on bail at present.
Was the suspension and conviction the reason behind her decision? “It was primarily because of the apmaan (insult) I felt as a bureaucrat, I gravitated towards spiritual path. The pain and insult I felt deeply made me to look for deeper meaning in life,” she said.
Karnawat said she served as a bureaucrat in the state for over three decades and saw many ups and downs of life. During Simhastha, she delivered sermons daily from Vyas Gaddi where a large number of people came to listen to her.
“Now I want to serve people as a sanyasin. When people heard my sermons during Simhastha, based on my own experiences, they told me I should get my sermons telecast on some spiritual channel,” she said, adding Ayodhya would be her spiritual base.
Asked how her husband and children were reacting to her decision, Karnawat said they were happy to see her joyous. “In the last 10 to 15 years, they have never seen me happy,” she said.
In January, Karnawat and another Dalit IAS officer Ramesh Thete (1993 batch) participated in a dharna, organised by a Dalit adivasi forum, accusing the state government of being bias towards officers from the SC and ST community.
Earlier this year, she also announced her plan to end her life by taking ‘jal samadhi’ (drowning) in Narmada river in Khandwa district, pressing for her demand of reinstating her and higher wages during the suspension period. She, however, dropped her plan.