Sustained fatal injuries after being hit by a car in Vasant Kunj
A power sector whistleblower and RTI activist of Delhi died three days after sustaining fatal injuries under mysterious circumstances at Vasant Kunj in South West Delhi on April 23. While his family sees foul play in the incident, the police are yet to take cognizance of the fact that the deceased, Ravinder Balwani, who had retired as manager of Delhi Transco Limited in 2010, had in the past also lodged a complaint with the Indraprastha Estate police station claiming that he feared a threat to his life from officials he had complained against.
Balwani's daughter Sonia, who is a physiotherapist, said her father had been fighting corruption in the power sector in Delhi for the past many years. “On April 23 too he had a hearing in the Delhi High Court in the matter against a former Delhi Transco Limited official. Thereafter he had gone and made some purchases of law books and in the evening while he was also carrying a number of case files with him, the incident took place. Some of the files pertaining to the cases subsequently went missing.”
Ms. Sonia Balwani said at 8-15 p.m. there was a call from the police on the landline at their 9668, Block C-9, Vasant Kunj residence stating that Mr. Balwani, had sustained serious injuries and calling over the family to the spot. “At the time my brother Varun and mother were at home and they rushed to the site of the accident opposite B-10 Market in Vasant Kunj. On reaching there, they were told that he had been taken by a Police Control Room van to AIIMS Trauma Centre, where he died three days later on April 26.”
Ms. Balwani said, “while there were a number of people at the spot who told us that my father had been hit by a car while he was engaging an auto-rickshaw to go home and that the car driver had also switched off his vehicle lights soon after the hit, the Delhi Police claimed that they could not find any witness. This is strange because a taxi stand, a paan shop and a bus stand are also very close to the spot.”
Ms. Balwani said what made the family suspicious about the whole incident was that their father was an RTI activist who had been regularly raising issues of corruption in the power sector and rights of consumers.
“He had filed three complaints in the office of the Lokayukta. One was against a DTL official and pertained to alleged ‘misuse of official position for personal benefit' and was now pending in the Delhi High Court.”
The other was against two former Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission members and was regarding revision of electricity tariff by DERC. The order of the Lokayukta was reserved in this matter. The third case pertained to installation of power plants without adequate allocation of gas to them. This had been dismissed as withdrawn.
Ms Balwani said: “We strongly believe that this could be a normal hit-and-run case but only the way the whole accident was professionally conducted by the driver we fail to resist thinking it could be a foul play.”
She said the Delhi Police was, however, not taking the incident with the seriousness it deserves and the Investigating Officer ASI Rai Singh had not responded to the calls of the family. “We went to Vasant Kunj police station too and narrated my father's involvement in the power sector cases to one Mr. Thakur but our statements have not been recorded.”
“My brother also wrote to Delhi Police Commissioner, B.K. Gupta, on April 30 about the police response in the matter,” she said. In the letter, Mr. Varun Balwani had stated that the PCR van had as per his information reached the spot within 15 minutes of the occurrence of the incident, which happened around 7-55 p.m.
“We appreciate quick assistance by the police but no first aid was given to my father till 8-30 p.m.,” he lamented, adding that instead of being taken to the nearest hospital, namely Indian Spinal Centre or Indraprastha Apollo located within 400 metres of the site, the elderly victim was taken to a distant hospital.
Stating that she had not yet received any complaint alleging foul-play in the case, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Delhi) Chhaya Sharma said: “Investigations so far have revealed that the person died in an accident. In case, the family lodges a complaint alleging foul-play, we will certainly conduct an enquiry.”
Ravinder Balwani had been regularly raising issues of corruption in the power sector He had lodged a complaint with the police claiming that he feared a threat to his life
Ravinder Balwani had been regularly raising issues of corruption in the power sector
He had lodged a complaint with the police claiming that he feared a threat to his life