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What do Gujarat cadre civil servants, retired and serving, think of UP gangrape outrage?

Manisha, Dalit Valmiki girl, whose body was forcibly cremated
By Rajiv Shah/ I was talking to a senior Gujarat cadre IAS official the other day. He had just phoned up to find out how things were, and slowly went ahead and started discussing Hathras – the gangrape of a teenaged Dalit girl, who died a fortnight later in hospital. What he told me was interesting: That there was considerable flutter on an IAS WhatsApp group, in which he also happened to be a member, around the horrendous event.
“Most of those who have been commenting are quite critical of the Uttar Pradesh government”, he informed me as I got curious. He particularly identified a few retired Dalit IAS officials who, according him, appeared to be “quite worked up.”
From whatever I learned from the conversation, which lasted for nearly 20 minutes, was, Dalit IAS officials, were, however, not alone in pointing out how anti-Dalit casteism has become the mainstay of politics now. Others, especially from those among the retired, too, joined in to point out that caste and patriarchy were two factors which appeared to rule supreme out there.
I am not naming either the official who was talking to me, nor those whom he identified by name. However, I specifically asked him about one IAS bureaucrat, RM Patel, who happened to be a Marxist during his youthful days, but resigned and joined BJP ahead of the Gujarat state assembly polls in 2012.
Pround to be a Dalit with (whatever I came to know of him), considerable insight into Gujarat’s culture and society, I don’t know what made him join politics. He fought for the assembly seat from a reserved constituency in Ahmedabad, and won hands down. Five years later, he wasn’t offered a ticket. “No. He has not offered any comments”, was the reply I got.
The official further told me two instances which he wanted to particularly bring to my notice: One, that a relatively young IAS bureaucrat who seemed to be to be pretty close to the powers-that-be when I covered Sachivalaya till early 2013, made an interesting comment – a typically of the “Marxists” when I was part of a Communist-backed students’ association. According to this relatively young babu, it is not caste but class conflict which one is finding reflected in Uttar Pradesh politics!
Another instance was of a bureaucrat, who, I was told, forwarded quotes from Manu Smriti to point towards how so-called lower caste and women were the main targets of attack in this ancient Indian legal treatise, hated by Dalits ever since Dr BR Ambedkar burned the book, an event which has now become an annual event for several Dalit organizations. I searched google and I found this link – I am not sure if he took the quotes from here. The site, nirmukta.com, carries 40 such quotes from Manu Smriti.
Meanwhile, I looked into a report which we published in Counterview, quoting a statement signed by 92 former civil servants who have protested against the manner in which the UP administration has bowed to the political diktat of chief minister Yogi Adityanath. I was scanning through the names, but I could not find a single Gujarat cadre IAS official.
The list, however has a top Gujarat cadre IPS official, belonging to the 1964 batch, PGJ Nampoothiri, former Director General of Police,Gujarat, who is pretty well known for being active during post-2002 Gujarat riots – if I remember correctly, he was appointed as a member of the two-person monitoring group set up the National Human Rights Commission on the riots. The other member was Gagan Sethi, a human rights activist based in Ahmedabad.
The other person in the list of 92 ex-civil servants is Ashok Kumar Sharma, an Indian Forest Service official, who served as managing director of the Gujarat State Forest Development Corporation. I must have met him a couple of times (I remember having done a story on mafia ruling the roost in Banni grassland in Kutch after talking to him), and always found him found to be pretty scathing on the way in which the forests were being managed in Gujarat.

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