Rinku Singh Rahi
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Rinku Singh Rahi (born 1982) is an Indian whistleblower and PCS officer fighting against corruption in sponsored welfare schemes in Uttar Pradesh (UP). He was shot six times by local gangsters, damaging his jaw and the vision of one eye, for exposing corruption.
Rinku Singh Rahi has been fighting corruption in his own department and state-run schemes since 2009. He was denied access to information on his own department. Instead, an attempt on his life was made allegedly at the behest of Principal Secretary Navtej Singh, and other department officials during the Mayawati government. He started a hunger strike in Lucknow hoping the Akhilesh Yadav government would pay heed to his demands for a reply on his pending RTI application; a criminal investigationinto the corruptions charges; and act against miscreants but instead was admitted to a psychiatric ward.
Life and early career
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He was born at Aligarh in a lower middle-class Jatav family on 20 May 1982. He did his elementary schooling in Aligarh and completed his BTech degree in Metallurgy at NIT, Jamshedpur in 2002. In the same year, he scored All India 17th rank in GATE that assured him a seat in his desired stream at any top technological institute. He opted for a civil service career instead. In pursuit of his objective, he undertook various civil services examinations/interviews. Having passed the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Civil Services examination in 2004, he was posted as District social welfare officer at Muzaffarnagar in 2008.
He showed interest in social development from his early years and took initiative in establishing a "Library" and "Adult education center" at Aligarh. He was then posted as a coordinater at the state-run coaching institute for IAS and IPS aspirants from the Dalit community at Aligarh.
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The social welfare department at Muzaffarnagar distributes over 400 million rupees annually to beneficiaries under various state-run welfare schemes. Rahi ordered an inquiry into the allocation of funds over the last five years, soon after he arrived. He found serious discrepancies:
- Out of the allocated funds to be distributed as part of Old-age pension scheme, money was taken for 62,447 people but only 47,707 beneficiaries received it. Each beneficiary is entitled to 3,600 rupees annually.
- There were no records for 55 million rupees distributed to 22,000 OBC students and 110 million rupees distributed to all BPLF families and General category – other than OBC, SC, ST, and Minorities.
Rahi complained to his seniors and also informed Bhuvneesh Kumar, a District Magistrate of Muzaffaranagar, about the irregularities. According to Kumar:
A couple of days before the attack, Rinku came to my office and informed me about the irregularities. He planned to computerise the record so that the picture could become clear. But before he could begin the work, he was attacked.
Rinku Singh filed RTI application on 28 November 2007, but never received a reply within the mandatory period of 30 days. He followed up by filing a complaint at Central Information Commission(CIC) under section 18 of the Commission. CIC issued a notice to Public Information Officer(PIO) for explanation and demanded he supply the information within the mandated time. PIO replied to CIC on 2 February 2009. CIC then directed PIO to provide the information on two of five queries. CIC rejected the remaining three queries, claiming they did not fall within the definition of "Information" as defined in the RTI Act.
After Rahi's complaints, armed miscreants shot him six time when he was playing badminton on the morning of 26 March 2009. His jaw was severely damaged and he lost the vision of one eye, but survived.
Police later found that the attack was carried out by local gangsters at the behest of welfare department officials. Police arrested nine people, including Mukesh Chaudhary, a SP leader, and Ashok Kashyap, an Assistant accountant at the welfare department. According to police, Mukesh Chaudhary was annoyed that Rahi did not sanction scholarships for some students and Ashok Kashyap was annoyed as Rahi had ordered a departmental inquiry into the alleged corruption.
Kumar issued an order to attach the property of Chaudary.
After Rahi was attacked, an inquiry committee was set up under Alka Tandon, director of social selfare department – Meerut. The committee found no records of funds spent in the last five years by the Social welfare, corroborating Rahi's allegations. The committee also found embezzlement to the tune of 100 million rupees, associated with various welfare schemes in 2009, according to Narendra Kumar Chowdhary, Social welfare department director. The Committee submitted the report with findings that included:
- No records were found regarding the scholarships at 101 schools.
- No records were found about five years of verification of people who are getting benefits on name of Elderly[Old-age] schemes and Widow pension schemes.
- Money was distributed to families having no daughter as part of the Daughter's marriage scheme.
The report also hinted that the local officials of the education department's involvement in the malpractices of Scholarship scheme. The inquiry team found accounting discrepancies to the tune of millions of rupees in almost all the schemes.
Speaking at a one-day token fast launched at Jantar Mantar on 25 March 2012 by Anna Hazare, a Social activist, Rahi announced that he too would undertake a hunger strike starring 26 March 2012 at Lucknow, in part because his RTI request had been rejected.
Rahi said that he had information that of around 600 to 700 million rupees that were allocated to Muzaffarnagar's Social welfare department in 2008–09, a large amount was unused. He believed that the reply to the RTI application would expose another scam in the department. According to Rahi:
I wanted to know where the unused funds went. To know the details, I had filed an application under the RTI Act demanding details. I have also asked for details about beneficiaries but did not receive full details. I had also filed an appeal against it.
Lucknow police, intending to disrupt the protest after midnight, first brought in doctors to check his condition and forcibly evicted him from the protest site. They tried to get him admitted first to a local hospital and then to a psychiatric ward of a medical college.
UP government on 28 March 2012 formed a "two-member committee" to probe Rahi's allegations. Awadesh Pradesh, Social welfare minister, said:
We have constituted a two-member committee under the chairmanship of Meerut commissioner. It will probe the matter and submit the report within two months.
Facing criticism and media coverage, he was transferred to his hometown, Aligarh. In addition, to the media censure Arvind Kejriwal, a Civil society activist, criticised the government crackdown on Rahi saying:
He has raised a genuine voice against corruption. The issue is when the ruling party is directly involved in corruption, murder and assault, from whom does one seek protection?
I presented facts of the scam before the senior officials of the department, but none of them cooperated. Even the information sought under the Right to Information Act have not been provided.
- See also, Attacks on RTI activists in India.
- "Lucknow: Whistleblower bureaucrat picked up from protest site, taken to psychiatric ward". NDTV. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
Mr Rahi has been raising the issue of corruption in the state government sponsored schemes ever since his stint as the District Social Welfare Officer in Muzzafarnagar in 2009. He has exposed corruption to the tune of Rs. 40 crore, for which he also suffered an attempt on his life when the local mafia pumped six bullets into him on March 26, 2009 – in that assault, he lost vision in one eye
- "Social welfare officer on dharna seeking RTI reply". Indian Express. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
A PCS Officer, Rinku Singh Rahi, who survived a murderous attack in Muzaffarnagar in 2009, is staging dharna in Lucknow demanding reply to his RTI application seeking details of money not used by the Social Welfare Department of Muzaffarnagar district in the year 2008–09.
- "UP: Whistleblower cop forcibly taken to asylum from protest site". India Today. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
Rahi had hoped for justice with the change of regime in the state and wanted to meet Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
"After midnight crackdown in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh officer resumes protest fast in Aligarh". NDTV. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
The new Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, already facing complaints hooliganism and violent behavior by his partymen, sure has more to answer after this incident.
- "Action replay: Another whistleblower termed insane, dumped into asylum". Deccan Chronicle. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
A similar scene was enacted here on Monday, just before midnight, when an officer of the allied Provincial State Services was forcibly picked up while he was staging dharna and taken to the psychiatric ward of a medical college in the state capital.
- "Fasting official mentally unstable, says UP govt". Deccan Herald. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
Apparently perturbed over the fast unto death by a UP official who is protesting against the government's inaction against corrupt elements, the authorities tried to get him admitted to a psychiatric facility by calling him mentally unstable.
"Team Anna demands firm measures to protect whistleblowers". Rediff. 25 March 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
Social activist Anna Hazare's one-day token fast at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Sunday was strongly supported by people from all walks of life. – Social Welfare Officer Rinku Singh Rahi too spoke about his confrontations with the mafia in UP, and said, "Despite being an officer, I am not given information about my own department, and have been threatened many times."
- "Whistleblower words ring true in probe, welfare dept in dock". Indian Express. 27 April 2009. Archived from the original on 18 July 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
From his hospital bed, Rinku conveyed that during a survey of records, he found:
"CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION – Complainant : Mr. Rinku Singh Rahi – Respondent: Public Information Officer" (PDF). rti.india.gov.in. 10 February 2009. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
Decision No. CIC /SG/C/2008/00155/1589 – Complaint No. CIC/SG/C/2008/00155 – Decision: Complaint Partially Allowed
- "Whistleblower forcibly taken to mental ward in UP". Zee News. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
- "Packed off to Aligarh, PCS officer resumes dharna". Indian Express. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
- "Police cracks down on protesting state official who sought RTI reply". Sunday Guardian. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
- "PCS officer restarts fast against social welfare department graft". The Times of India. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- "Officer protesting against scam evicted, taken to hospital". The Asian Age. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
I presented facts of the scam before the senior officials of the department, but none of them cooperated. Even information sought under the Right to Information Act have not been provided,"
- "Lucknow: Protesting officer evicted, taken to hospital". CNN IBN. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
I presented facts of the scam before the senior officials of the department, but none of them cooperated. Even information sought under the Right to Information Act have not been provided
- Whistleblower PCS Officer Sits On Fast In Lucknow, Police Takes Him To Trauma Centre
- On hunger strike, whistleblower bureaucrat picked up by cops and sent to a mental institution
- Rinku now a days
- Rinku's letter in Hindi language Hindi language
- Rinku Singh Rahi – A Man against Corrupt System – price of being honest Civil Servant.