[Reader-list] endorsement campaign of official apathy into lalitmehta murder enquriy

Asit asitreds asitredsalute at gmail.com
Mon Jun 16 16:29:58 IST 2008

                 Dear friends,
We are attaching (and enclosing inline text with some of the initial
signatories) a statement on the happenings in Palamau jharkhand related to
uncovering of fraud in NREGA works in social audits and violent reactions to
that. The latest is a report that has been sent by the District
Administration of Palamau which, amongst other things contains many
ridiculous allegations against jean and the survey team. we are also
attaching the scanned copy of the DCs report as carried by Prabhat Khabar,
and a link to an article in the Indian Express on the growing violence
against NREGA activists: http://indianexpress.com/story/322527.html
*Could you please go through the statement below, and if you approve send
your concurrence as soon as possible so that the signed statement can go to
various newspapers.
*Please send this urgently to   kiranshaheen at gmail.com  with a copy to
mkssrajasthan at gmail.com  . Also please send this on to others for them to
sign. If you need any more details, do let us know.
in solidarity,
Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey
(for the MKSS)

*Palamau Report: Enquiry or Cover-up?
We are shocked by the recent report prepared by the Deputy Commissioner (DC)
and Superintendent of Police (SP) of Palamau, commenting on Lalit Mehta's
murder as well as on the survey of NREGA conducted there in May 2008 by the
G.B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad (As published in the newspaper
Prabhat Khabar, Ranchi on 12th, 13th and 14th June ). This report is a
deliberate attempt to divert attention from the real issues, which
effectively protects those responsible for corruption and violence in the

The report shows that the police have made no serious enquiries into Lalit
Mehta's murder. It does not provide any credible clue to this murder, but
raises a number of mischievous conjectures using selective evidence. For
instance, the report refers to interviews with Lalit Mehta's brother and his
sons, without mentioning that the sons are one and three years old,
respectively. Meanwhile, evidence from extensive interviews with Lalit's
wife, Ashrita, is ignored. Further, the report is full of factual mistakes.
Even the date of the murder is incorrect: Lalit Mehta was murdered on 14
May, not on 15 May as stated in the report.

Instead of presenting a serious analysis of the circumstances of the murder,
the report makes  absurd insinuations, such as Jean Drèze's possible
involvement in the murder, or the allegation that he and his team
manufactured evidence of fraud in NREGA works. Equally ridiculous is the
unsubstantiated claim of the possible role of an old family dispute about
Lalit Mehta's inter-religious marriage being the cause for the murder.

The report also makes insidious allegations about the survey team, Vikas
Sahyog Kendra, and Lalit Mehta's family. For instance, the report presents a
ludicrous picture of the social audit activities conducted by the survey
team, and even accuses the team of using devious means to collect
testimonies. No-one familiar with the team's work (which was conducted in a
transparent manner in full view of the public and the media) can take this
seriously. Casting  unwarranted aspersions on people like Jean Drèze, who is
a member of the Central Employment Guarantee Council (and therefore mandated
to monitor and investigate NREGA implementation anywhere in the country),
and on students from Delhi University  and other reputed universities, is in
fact an attempt to snuff out any independent monitoring of government

The report reinforces earlier suspicions that there is an entrenched and
deep rooted nexus of corruption and violence surrounding NREGA in Palamau,
with powerful connections. Otherwise, why would the district's seniormost
officers go to such length to undermine a forthright examination of the use
of NREGA funds in this area?

We demand that the report of the DC and SP Palamau be rejected by the
Central Government as well as by the State Government, and that a CBI
enquiry into Lalit Mehta's murder and the corruption in NREGA works in
Palamau District be initiated immediately.


Aruna Roy

Bunker Roy

Arundhati Roy

Prabhash Joshi

Harsh Mander

Kiran Shaheen

Nikhil Dey

Shanker Singh
and many more
A comprehensive list is being prepared .

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