Allegation that Ansari was killed by Naxalites is a ploy: report

Debunking claims of the Jharkhand government, the Union Ministry of Rural Development has called for a CBI inquiry into the murder of whistle-blower Niyamat Ansari charging that there was an attempt to cover up the murder. It called for “serious action” against Latehar Deputy Commissioner (DC) Rahul Purwar for alleged dereliction of duty and failure to prevent funds from schemes under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) being siphoned off.

The Ministry's secretary, B.K. Sinha, as head of the two-member inquiry team, in his report, has quoted locals saying they feared for the life of social activist and NAC member Jean Dreze for working closely with the deceased in exposing the criminal-administration nexus in embezzling funds. Deputy Secretary (MGNREGA) Rohit Kumar was the other member of the probe team.

The report rejects the claim of the Jharkhand Chief Secretary, the joint report of the Latehar DC and SP Kuldeep Dwivedi and the joint report of the Sub-Divisional Officer and the Deputy Superintendent of Police that questioned the antecedents of the deceased and sought to blame the Naxalites for his murder.

Mr. Sinha viewed the allegation that Ansari was killed by Naxalites as a ploy to cover up the murder and protect local contractors and officials behind the gruesome murder.

The report spells out the sequence of events to establish the hands of contractors and officials behind the murder and negates the involvement of Naxalites to correlate the murder with exposure of corruption.

Mr. Sinha accused the district administration of creating the impression that Ansari was killed by Naxalites and misleading the Union government despite the fact that it had handed over the jobs to contractors in utter violation of the law that stipulated that 50 per cent of the jobs be implemented by panchayats.

While action was taken against the former BDO, Kailash Prasad Sahu, and Panchayat Sevak Basudeo Nagesia for committing fraud, duplication, forgery, cheating, falsification of records and embezzlement of government funds but no arrest had been made in the murder case.

The sequence of events started with a submission of report by social activists on February 26, 2011, to the Principal Secretary, Rural Development, Jharkhand, who ordered a probe which upheld the charges. A case was lodged on March 1, 2011 against the officials found guilty and Ansari was murdered the following day.

Stressing that this established the cause-effect relationship, the report contended that had the murder been committed by the Naxalites any other opportunity could have been used which would not create this impression.

The purported Naxalites had accused the deceased of felling forest trees but their involvement was ruled out because they neither took credit for the murder nor left any posters at the murder spot. Ansari was fighting for the rights of tribals over a piece of forest land.

Missing links

Underlining missing links in the version of the district administration, the report called for a CBI probe into the murder and particularly the role of the district administration and the district police.

It also demanded that the State government complete investigations in the cases of previous murders of social activist during the last three years and submit charge sheets.

Noting gross dereliction of duties, lack of supervision, impropriety in execution of works and attempts to cover up a murder appear to have been committed, the report recommended “serious action” against the DPC, the DDC and the PO and other supervisory officers.