‘Public stood by me, not colleagues’: IPS officer Roopa D Moudgil who exposed alleged VIP treatment given to Sasikala in jail
IPS officer Roopa D Moudgil, who exposed the alleged special privileges provided to V K Sasikala, close aide of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, at the Bengaluru Central Prison in 2017 feels vindicated with the report of an independent inquiry committee confirming her charges. The report of the probe panel, led by retired IAS officer Vinay Kumar, has been obtained by Moudgil through an RTI. In an interview to Vikram Gopal, Moudgil says her colleagues were mute spectators and it was the public that supported her through the tough times . Edited excerpts:
Your reaction to the findings of the Vinay Kumar panel.
The Vinay Kumar panel has said the same things that I had and I stand vindicated.
What is your reaction to the finding that Sasikala was provided a separate corridor, with separate cooking facilities?
Special privileges included cooking facilities and a separate corridor with five cells, where all her belongings were scattered, which was proof that all the five rooms were being used by her. These had been provided flouting the Prison Manual.
Do you still stand by your report in which you said that you had heard that these facilities were provided in exchange for bribes?
It’s anyone’s understanding that if the officers are flouting rules and even the SC verdict that it must be due to a quid pro quo. I had information that money had exchanged hands for this.
Your reports caused a furore. What is your response to the then chief minister accusing you of breach of service rules ?
I had not violated any service conduct rules even while speaking to the press.
The rules were amended in August, 2014, and now say that public servants have to conduct themselves in a transparent and accountable manner. So, if I raised an issue of corruption it did not affect either national security or violate the Official Secrets Act.
You have spoken about the backlash officials face for exposing corruption.
When I gave this report there was no backlash but obviously there was no support. It was not that my colleagues were standing by me, they were silent spectators. However, massive support came from the public.
In hindsight, do you feel you were punished for your honesty?
I don’t consider transfers as punishment. Secondly, I have always held that these kinds of discomfitures, be it transfer order or defamation notice, they will be there when you raise your voice against the system from within. But these are occupational hazards. It is only when you are in that system that you can do something, you can’t expect people outside to rectify the system. When we are mandated by the Constitution and put in a post to run it efficiently and correct the flaws, then it is our duty to do so. Of course, I also felt pressure because there were differing voices and my colleagues were mute spectators. Some people on social media said the ‘Mannargudi Mafia’ [a reference to Sasikala’s family, which hails from Manargudi in Tamil Nadu] would not spare me and some others said I had embarrassed the government and it would not spare me. But, finally, I sailed through, so Satyameva Jayate [truth alone triumphs].