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IIT Kanpur awards cop who exposed ‘bigwigs’ in Gujarat riots

In what could ruffle feathers of the Narendra Modi government, IPS officer Rahul Sharma, who fell out of favour with the state government for submitting crucial call record details that exposed the role of top leaders during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, has been awarded the prestigious Satyendra Dubey Memorial Award for 2012.

The award will be presented at IIT Delhi on 3 March.  The award was constituted by IIT Kanpur in memory of Satyendra Dubey, an engineer with the National Highways Authority of India who was murdered in 2003 for exposing corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral Highway Project. Dubey was a civil engineer from IIT Kanpur.

This is the second time in the seven years since the award was constituted that a police officer has been given the award. It recognizes alumni from IIT for “displaying highest professional integrity for upholding human values.” Sharma graduated as an electrical engineer from IIT-K in 1987.

Screengrab from IIT Kanpur website.

Screengrab from IIT Kanpur website.

Sharma, a 1992 batch IPS officer of the Gujarat cadre, has been chosen for the award for his role in saving lives of 200 children during the communal riots in 2002 and in providing crucial evidence that implicated the perpetrators of the riots. The IIT-K Alumni Association describes him as having undergone “a sequel of humiliation and harassment but upheld his value systems with exemplary sacrifices.”

Describing Sharma’s role during the riots, a statement by IIT-K alumni association reads: “Rahul was posted at Bhavnagar from Vadodara just before 27 February 2002 - the day the Sabarmati Express was torched. At his new posting, Rahul ensured that peace was maintained in the district during his brief stint there. For the cause of peace and order, he felt compelled to ruffle the feathers of some of his superiors during this short tenure. In his line of duty, he had to resort to open fire on a mob which was on its way to attack members of another community in Bhavnagar town. Subsequently, he suffered humiliation by being posted a low-profile post.”

Further, on Sharma’s role in bringing the guilty to book, the statement reads: “The tech savvy Rahul procured the cell phone call details of that period from Cellforce and AT&T, the telecom service providers in the city at that time. These call details provided many important clues that led to the implication of many bigwigs of the state polity as well as the bureaucracy.”

Among those implicated were BJP leader and former minister Maya Kodnani.

Sharma, who is also a law graduate, was charged by the state government for violating service rules by not seeking clearance before submitting the crucial CD of calls record to the Nanavati Commission that was probing the riots. Sharma has challenged the government’s charge sheet before Central Administrative Tribunal. (Read full report here)

Given the government’s strained relationship with Sharma, questions are being raised as to whether he will be given the permission to accept the award.

A Times of India report states that, “Clause 12 of All India Service Rules states that if an officer gets an award, he/she has to seek permission of the government before accepting it. The chances of the government granting permission to Sharma to attend the event in Kanpur are nil. (Read full report here)

Staff at the IIT-Kanpur’s Alumni Association told Firstpost that no confirmation had yet been received from Sharma on his attending the awards ceremony.

“We have sent him the invitation for the award ceremony. As of now, we have no information as whether he will attend or not,” said a senior member of the staff.

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