Civil servants are the bedrock upon which this nation stands.
In The Better India, we have time and again highlighted the work of civil servants who have done extensive work in the service of local communities.
However, even as we celebrate martyrs in the armed forces who have sacrificed their lives while serving this nation, we don’t celebrate civil servants who have done the same.
Here are five civil servants who sacrificed their lives in defence of core principles enshrined in our Constitution.
Please note that the list here is by no means definitive, so, while we honour these figures, let’s also recall the contributions of those who haven’t found a mention. Their dedication to India will not be forgotten.
1) Satyendra Dubey
Satyendra Dubey, an Indian Engineering Service officer, working with the National Highways Authority of India, was murdered for seemingly exposing serious corruption in the Central government’s Golden Quadrilateral Highway construction project.
Troubled by what he saw, Dubey wrote a long letter to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee exposing systematic corruption in the NHAI.
“A dream project of unparalleled importance to the nation, but in reality, a great loot of public money because of very poor implementation at every state,” wrote Dubey.
Through his letter, Dubey sought to expose a conspiracy between the contractors building the roads and the officials appointed to oversee them.
On 27 November 2003, Dubey was murdered while returning home from a wedding in Varanasi. Despite the tragedy of Dubey’s passing, it strengthened the call for greater integrity in public life with the enactment of the Right to Information Act in 2005, and the Whistleblowers Protection Act in May 2014.
2) Narendra Kumar
For the 2009-batch Indian Police Service officer from Bihar posted in Morena district, Madhya Pradesh, it was his relentless efforts towards stopping illegal stone mining that won the hearts of not just locals but the nation as well.
However, it’s what also got him killed by the powerful mining mafia in the state. Back in March 2012, he witnessed a tractor carrying illegally mined stones.
In an attempt to stop the tractor, he stood in front of it, but the driver refused to stop and ran over Kumar, crushing him to death. He was only 30.
3) Randhir Prasad Verma
Randhir Prasad, a 1974-batch Indian Police Service officer, is a legend in the city of Dhanbad in present-day Jharkhand for having eliminated many criminal gangs during his tenure.
On the morning of 3 January 1991, robbers had conducted a heist in the Hirapur branch of the Bank of India. They had taken control of the bank, tying up the bank staff present there.
When Verma, who was the SP, got wind of the news during lunch, he rushed to the bank all alone to resolve the situation.
Taking on five armed robbers on his own, he battled gallantly until he was shot and killed, but not before he saved the bank and the lives of the staff tied up there.
For his bravery, he was awarded the Ashok Chakra posthumously. In 2004, the Government of India issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honour.
4) SP Mahantesh
SP Mahantesh, a Karnataka Administrative Officer, was the Deputy Director of the Audit wing in the state’s Co-operative department.
As soon as he assumed office, one scam after another began tumbling out, particularly in the judicial employees housing co-operative society and BEML employees co-operative society.
Subsequently, Mahantesh blew the whistle on several co-operative housing scams in the city.
On 15 May 2013, in Bengaluru, he was brutally attacked by a group of miscreants and breathed his last in a private hospital on 20 May after battling severe head injuries for five days. It is widely speculated that the housing co-operative societies were behind the attack.
5) Shanmugam Manjunath
While working for the Indian Oil Corporation in Lucknow, Manjunath, a Grade A officer of the Indian Oil Corporation had ordered two petrol pumps at Lakhimpur Kheri sealed for selling adulterated fuel for three months.
When the pump started operating again a month later, Manjunath decided to conduct a surprise raid around 19 November 2005.
During his inspection, he was shot down, and his body was found in the backseat of his car. He was only 27 years old.
His sacrifice inspired several students at IIM, culminating with the establishment of “The Manjunath Shanmugam Trust” on 23 February 2006. Besides fighting the case, they presented a broader agenda of improving governance in Indian public life.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)