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Unsung Crusaders: part 5

Can you and I make a difference? Can we fight the system? Can hope and honesty stop injustice? As the nation turns 61, Hindustan Times brings you five profiles of people who did, reports Nivedita Khandekar.

india Updated: Aug 19, 2008 01:14 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

Suresh Kumar Nagarwal will not talk to the press. As a serving officer in the Indian Railways, who has been relentlessly fighting corruption, he has to be extra careful not to give his detractors ammunition to use against him.

They have already tormented him enough. As an executive engineer with the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR), he protested against the alleged rampant corruption he came across while working in Malda, West Bengal, in 2002. Far from appreciating his concern, his senior entered adverse remarks in his annual confidential report.

Nagarwal wrote to the Advisor (Vigilance), Railway Board but got a threat call soon after.

Nothing was done about the charges he had brought, but Nagarwal found himself transferred to Guwahati, where he was also denied various facilities his position entitled him to. He then wrote to the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC). His complaint was routinely forwarded to the Railway Board's vigilance department, the very body that had let him down earlier! Once again his identity was disclosed.

In February 2005, a news channel highlighted his struggle, which led to questions being raised in Parliament. Did it finally bring him justice? Far from it. The expose led instead to his being transferred to Northern Railways and sent to Jaipur. A chargesheet too was recently filed against him by the NFR.

"The CVC's job is not only to receive complaints but also to protect the identity of whistleblowers which it did not do," said RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, who is supporting Nagarwal.

Confronted with details of Nagarwal's case, the Railways refused to offer any immediate response.

If you know of someone working towards upholding integrity in public life, please nominate the person for the "The Manjunath Shanmugam Integrity Award". Visit www.manjunathshanmugamtrust.org for details on the nomination process or sms your address to +91 99105 25727 for the nomination form.