Dalit IAS officer drops plan to take 'jal samadhi' in MP

Bhopal: Dalit IAS officer Shashi Karnawat, who is under suspension in a graft case, today dropped her plan to end her life by taking 'jal samadhi' (drowning) in river Narmada in Khandwa district on February 2.

Speaking on behalf of Karnawat, another Dalit IAS officer Ramesh Thete said state Finance Minister Jayant Malaiya was in continuous touch with him after Karnawat sat on 'maun vrat' (observe silence) from January 29 and had decided to take 'jal samadhi', pressing for her demand of reinstating her and higher wages during the suspension period.

Notably, the Madhya Pradesh cabinet will for the first time meet in a boat in Narmada river at Khandwa on February 2.

The state government has softened its stand on the two demands of Karnawat, one, on reinstating her, second, on offering her 75 per cent of wages during the suspension instead of 50 per cent which she is currently getting, Thete told PTI today. She has decided not to go for 'jal samadhi' as the government was positive in its response to her demands, Thete said.

Time has come to reinstate Karnawat as the MP High Court has admitted a petition challenging her conviction, he said. Karnawat, was sentenced to five years jail by Mandla district court in 2013 in a corruption case and is under suspension since then. The state government had recently given its nod to prosecute Thete in an alleged case of illegal disposal of land in Ujjain during his tenure as additional commissioner around two years back, lodged against him with the Lokayukta (state anti-corruption watchdog).

Thete and Karnawat have opened a front against MP government for over a fortnight now alleging that it was prompt in taking action against Dalit officers while ignoring similar cases of misconduct involving officers from upper castes.

Thete had also taken part in a dharna (sit-in) organised by Dalit Adivasi Forum (DAF) on January 11 here to protest against the alleged discrimination against Dalit and tribal bureaucrats.

On the sideline of the DAF protest, Mohan Patil, a national office-bearer of Republican Party of India, had told reporters that complaints were pending against 18 upper caste IAS and IPS officers with MP Lokayukta but sanction to prosecute was given only against Thete.

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