Lately, I have been watching a lot of Crime Patrol on Sony channel. My new fascination is not welcomed in the family fearing my somber mood thereafter. I also earned remarks about that concealed violent streak in me. My interest in it grew as I saw episodes based on real life crime stories I had read in newspapers. These must be a small fraction of the whole crimes but nonetheless it is consoling to see some solved mysteries. They have also started special episodes for high profile cases on weekends.
There I came across this story of Satyendra Dubey. Though in recent years there have been more than one whistleblower like him who met similar tragic fate but his case might ring a bell, he was that engineer on a road project who daringly wrote to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s office about the rampant corruption happening on his project site. He came in news not because of writing to PMO but because he was soon murdered, a news that shocked people. It was alleged that his identity, despite his request to keep it a secret, was leaked by the nation’s most entrusted office.
Golden Quadrilateral was an ambitious four lane highway project connecting four major metros- Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. The project was started during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure as as our Prime Minister. The road would pass through small and big cities, (Bengaluru, Pune, Surat, Ahmadabad were also included) it would in process cover 5,846 kms of India. Tenders were allotted to giant construction companies who supposedly had expertise in construction of such roads and had sophisticated technology, deep experience and skilled manpower in building premium quality roads. However after being awarded the contract they sublet their jobs; even the main road contracts, to the local contractors who did not have either caliber or intention to put in their best on these roads. Following Satyendra’s letter, financial and work irregularities were also discovered at several other stations of the project.
Satyendra Dubey had very little tolerance for corruption. Despite peers advising against, he had joined government services only with a deep sense of gratitude for the country. He had a brilliant academic record that could have easily earned him a job abroad and a cozy lifestyle. How opulent lifestyle should have lured him, especially that his family background, upbringing was compiled of days with modest means. Yet this must have meant to him that he need not fear shortages in life after having lived them. Satyendra Dubey aspired and dreamed of contributing his services in making topmost quality infrastructure that would be the backbone of a new India.
He got through IES and joined Ministry of surface transport. Satyendra joined Golden quadrilateral project of NHAI at Koderma as assistant project director in the year 2002. He was shocked to find the hurry in which advance payments were made to contractors as soon as the contract was awarded. However, contractors did not show any hurry in starting the work. When they started they used cheap raw materials. He came into bad books of contractor mafia, particularly, when once he made them rebuild a 6 kilometer road. This was a big setback for the contractors and his seniors did not like it. Fighting a lonely battle, finally, he wrote to PMO office about loot with public money, an unsigned letter but a bio- data attached to give credibility to the complaint. As a result, the project director was suspended but Satyendra’s name was leaked and he started receiving threatening calls. For reasons unknown Satyendra was transferred too on same project but a smaller site at Gaya.
Satyendra Dubey was about to make a comeback. He applied and passed an inter-departmental promotion test that qualified him for the post of Project Director. Gaya did not have this post to offer and Koderma needed a Project Director. Satyendra was appointed as project director and would soon join the project where the contractor mafia dreaded to have him back.
On 27th November 2003 Satyendra was returning from a wedding late night from Varanasi. After getting off the train he found his car missing. He called his driver and the driver complained that his car wouldn’t start. He was approaching for a rickshaw when he was shot by a gang of three. People of the city cried foul when police tried to establish a robbery case gone wrong. CBI was called and after initial probing it too stressed on robbery theory -that Satyendra probably tried to struggle when robbers demanded valuables from him and so got killed in the fight.
There were lot coincidences in this theory though, too much to establish it as a loot story. The car breakdown, then rickshaw puller- the eye-witness to this murder went missing after some years. Satyendra was carrying only Rs 3000 cash with him. According to crime patrol he was shot at 4 times which would be waste of bullets on robbers part. Two other eyewitness committed suicide after CBI interrogation. The parents of witnesses alleged that they were poisoned by CBI.
Born in 1973, Satyendra graduated from IIT Kanpur in 1994. In 1996 he passed his MET exams. From 1973 to 2003 it was a very short life, a mix of intelligence, willingness for hard work and patriotism in human form was shot dead in one night. Along with him died hopes, dreams and expectation of his parents the happiness to watch the achievements of their son. And we lost a honest, upright, dutiful government employee which is an endangered species. When I was watching Crime Patrol, it opened with the first shot where Satyendra was murdered which kind of mentally prepared me to see the rest of the story but in real life, people close to him witnessing his life, life did not prepare them for this gruesome twist.
How long will we remember this guy who died for our country? Our textbooks still are limited to stories of freedom fighters before 1947. Post 1947, we know independence hasn’t been a naturally easy thing and still there is no proper record of people striving to make this republic work. And so we feel uninspired in our public life. So we feel entitled to say without hesitation in discussions that things in India will never change.
One, people dedicating their lives, die as unsung heroes and second corruption is not hated enough in our country. A convicted with charges of corruption is still not regarded as hardcore criminal. All we learn is that ‘in face’ corruption cases calls for simply resignations from their post. We ignore the fact that this person has the potential to harm a nation as much as a terrorist. Somewhere we are still ready to understand why people ‘have to’ compromise. If there is a record to refer and learn how many Satyendra Dubey, Shanmugam Manjunath, Narendra Kumar lose their lives we might become unforgiving to those who have conveniently manipulated our system.
You have to be born again, Satyendra Dubey, in us and make us plentiful a number, a majority invincible voice of India…
(Information Source: Crime Patrol -Tele-Serial and Wikipedia)