Parrikar orders probe against whistleblower Kashinath Shetye, a govt engineer
The vigilance probe was ordered against whistleblower Kashinath Shetye after BJP legislator Nilesh Cabral accused him of stealing documents from the state assembly. The lawmaker also moved a privilege motion.Updated: Aug 06, 2017, 08:10 IST
Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar ordered on Friday an inquiry against a 49-year-old government junior engineer, who is a self-styled anti-corruption campaigner and has exposed dishonest deals linked to politicians.
The vigilance probe was ordered against whistleblower Kashinath Shetye after BJP legislator Nilesh Cabral accused him of stealing documents from the state assembly. The lawmaker also moved a privilege motion.
“He has filed 195 cases in the past five years and has taken a lot of leave. I wonder whether he is working for the government or not,” the chief minister said while announcing a vigilance inquiry against him.
The remarks came from a man who had used the right to information act (RTI) — the main weapon of Shetye in his crusade — to expose the Congress government of Digambar Kamat about a decade ago.
Shetye’s RTI applications allegedly exposed “illegal sale and purchase” of land by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation that lawmaker Cabral heads.
“In my recent petition I had challenged the procedure used by the GTDC to bring private players to acres of land in Vagator. It has perhaps irked Cabral, a close aide of Parrikar,” he said.
“I am not afraid of anything as I have documents to prove I am right.”
- Illegal Mining- His RTI applications led to filing of cases against 151 people including former ministers, MLA’s and government servants on court orders. He moved to the court after in his complaint with police and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against those indicted by the Justice Shah Commission failed to evoke any response.
- Dual Citizenship- His RTI led to registration of cases against around 500 people including law-makers and bureaucrats who have obtained Portuguese nationality wrongly. Many more were forced to surrender dual citizenship after his expose.
- Sand Mafia: After being attacked by sand mafia for petitions against illegal mining, a local NCP leader Jitendra Deshprabhu was arrested in 2012 for illegal bauxite mining.
- Coastal Zone violations: His RTI application led to notices to casinos stations near Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary but was withdrawn as the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) said temporary structures does not amount to violation of ecological norms.
- Foreign funding to parties: A case was lodged against the Goa units of Congress and BJP for allegedly accepting donation from a foreign registered mining company Vedanta. He has also accused leaders of both BJP and Congress of receiving money from foreign companies which is prohibited under Representation of People’s Act.
Like many anti-graft campaigners in India, Shetye has been threatened, assaulted and transferred to the remotest corners of Goa. But he has continued with his crusade against corruption.
His fight cuts across party lines. He exposed an illegal mining scam in 2013 in which former Congress chief ministers Kamat and Pratapsingh Rane were charged.
Cabral’s allegation and demand for action against Shetye found support from legislators across the spectrum because the junior engineer for 27 years have been a bugbear for every government, irrespective of the party in power.
The legislators accuse Shetye of violating the civil service conduct rules as he had filed RTI applications and cases in the national green tribunal, high court and the Supreme Court.
“There were days when the phone would not stop ringing with threats to harm me and my family,” said the engineer who began his fight against corruption when a bribe was sought from his wife about 20 years ago.
More than 50 RTI activists have been killed and another 257 assaulted in 12 years since the law was enacted. A bill introduced by the previous UPA government to protect whistleblowers is pending in Parliament. The Centre now proposes to change rules that could make RTI applicants more vulnerable to threats.
As Parrikar forms a committee to probe his assets, Shetye said he will remain a whistleblower, no matter what the government does.
“I have always asked for information under the RTI act as a citizen not as a government servant trying to benefit from it,” he said.