Mukesh Rajak,22, caught corruption on video and took swift action against corrupt officials.
Mukesh Rajak is a soft-spoken and cheerful young man, unless he sees corruption exploiting the marginalised community in the villages of Jharkhand, his home.
“I can’t sit idle when I see injustice and inequality happening in front of me,” says 22-year-old Mukesh Rajak.
He is a Dalit activist and a Community Correspondent with Video Volunteers. Mukesh has been using activism and journalism to bring out unreported stories of corruption and prejudice in marginalised rural areas of Jharkhand.
One such incident came to Mukesh’s notice when he heard that the son of the postman of Bherwa Village, Jharkhand, was taking money in return for giving Aadhar Identity Cards.
His swift, strong actions not only made the culprits return the money to people but also made the corrupt father and son apologise for their actions on camera.
Aadhar card is an important identification card used by people of rural India for availing many important schemes for employment, provident funds and pensions. It has no charges levied upon its delivery. But the poor people of Bherwa were paying as much as Rs. 10 for getting a card that was rightfully theirs.
Mukesh confronted the culprit while shooting the video of the corruption, saying it was illegal to take money; the culprit callously answered, “Why shouldn’t I take money?” Mukesh immediately showed the video of rampant corruption to the postmaster of the head post-office in Madhapur. The evidence was so strong that the officials took swift action and summoned the accused postman to clarify the matter.
As a result, the shamed postman and his son returned all the money they had taken from the villagers and apologised on the video.
The father tearfully admitted his wrongdoing, “He (my son) has done a terrible thing for which I apologise. I will never ever give him any such work to do in the future.” The main culprit, the son of the postman, also admitted that “I was not supposed to take any money and yet I did so. I am feeling guilty and want to apologise to the villagers.”
Mukesh’s swift actions led to awareness and end of corruption in the village. Belonging to a Dalit background, Mukesh has had experiences of prejudice and inequality since childhood.
“I have seen people face many types of problems in their daily lives. But they weren’t speaking up, or maybe they didn’t know whom to talk to,” admits Mukesh.
His activism and journalism have caused him many troublesome moments. He was falsely accused of threatening and stealing from a MGNREGA official when he filed an RTI request against her corrupt practices.
“I was fighting for truth, but I was accused of wrongdoing. The experience taught me that no matter what, the truth will always win,” Mukesh says.
The various dangers that lie in his path demotivate his family to let him continue with his activism. They want him to be like other young men aspiring for government jobs.
“But helping my community to know about their rights and helping them achieve progress gives me satisfaction like no other,” Mukesh says.
Mukesh was awarded the Swami Vivekananda Sewa Samman in 2011 by the Chief Minister of Jharkhand.
“The real award, however, was the chair that I was offered while visiting the homes of higher caste neighbours. This, for me, is the real change,” says Mukesh.
In future, he aspires to be a documentary film-maker.