Suspended IAS officer Shashi Karnawat wept near the BR Ambedkar statue amid a high drama in MP Nagar on Saturday, alleging discrimination by the state government.
The government suspended Karnawat after the Mandla district court sentenced her to a five-year jail in 2013 in a corruption case (zila panchayat printing scam of 1999-2000). Promoted to the IAS in 1999, she was a deputy secretary in the youth and sports welfare department before her suspension.
Claiming that she is on hunger strike for the last five days, Karnawat said she decided to pay respects to Ambedkar on the World Human Rights Day, and highlight discrimination against scheduled castes. “I will now work for Ambedkar’s mission,” she told reporters after garlanding the statue with her supporters.
Senior police officials and women cops were deployed at the Board Office Crossing to ensure there is no untoward incident or blocking of the traffic.
“Will the dignity of a woman be shattered to shreds like this? Is there no body to protect people like me in this state so that I can live with dignity? I am appealing to all those who have compassionate hearts, please protect me,” Karnawat said.
Asked about the government’s claim that she has broken all bridges of communication through her conduct, she said “If government has closed its doors for me, my people have opened their doors for me. And here I am today before the statue of BR Ambedkar.”
She said, “The MP government has snatched my right to live and earn livelihood as a woman of dignity. The government should now be cautious as I have decided to approach social groups at national and international level.”
Karnawat said many social groups from five to six states were in contact with her. “Many people from SC and ST community are meeting and calling me daily. People from other communities are also calling me and assuring their support to my fight for justice.”
On general administration department (GAD) minister Lal Singh Arya condemning her conduct, she said, “It is the strategy of the state government to pit a SC against a SC and a Brahmin against a Brahmin.”
Earlier this year, she announced her plan to end life by taking ‘jal samadhi’ (drowning) in the Narmada in Khandwa. In July, she wrote to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, seeking permission for euthanasia.
‘BJP leader Menon wanted me to join BJP’
Asked if she plans to join politics, Karnawat said if the government had brought her on the road, she would also try to do the same with it. “In 2013, BJP leader Arvind Menon had come to my home. He tried to convince my parents that I should leave the job and join BJP. Eight years were left in my service at that time,” she said.
“I told him (Menon) that if they want my services, I can serve people from my post also. But with the help of a wrong affidavit, I was booked and people from a specific community deposited Rs 7 lakh as surety, as I didn’t have the money.” She accused the BJP government of indulging in vendetta politics against her.