Posted On August 31, 2023

In a startling revelation that has sent shockwaves through administrative circles, Ashok Parmar, a senior IAS officer hailing from the Dalit community, has accused the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory administration of subjecting him to a campaign of discrimination, harassment, and intimidation. This case brings to light the challenges and prejudices that persist within the bureaucratic framework of India, even as the nation strides towards equality and inclusivity.

Guransh Kaur

A seasoned bureaucrat with a distinguished career spanning decades, Ashok Parmar is a 1992 batch IAS officer from Gujarat who has consistently demonstrated his commitment to duty and integrity. However, over the past year, his professional life has been marred by a series of abrupt transfers, a move that he claims is rooted in a deep-seated bias against his Dalit identity. His ordeal began when he blew the whistle on rampant irregularities within the Jal Shakti department, exposing a web of corruption and mismanagement.

According to Parmar’s complaint lodged with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, the situation escalated swiftly after he unveiled the irregularities. His allegations suggest that he was sidelined and marginalized, with a sinister attempt to discredit his credibility. Parmar’s courageous decision to disclose the misconduct not only speaks to his commitment to upholding the principles of accountability but also highlights the tremendous personal risks that such revelations entail.

Parmar’s exposé was met with a series of transfers that he perceives as punitive measures to muzzle his voice. After being repatriated to the AGMUT cadre in March 2022, he was posted as the Principal Secretary of the Irrigation and Flood Control department. However, within a mere two months, he found himself reassigned to the Jal Shakti department. Parmar asserts that these transfers were not routine administrative decisions but rather a strategic ploy to isolate him and undermine his efforts to bring transparency to the system.

In a letter addressed to the Union Home Secretary, Parmar voiced his concerns of potential false implication, reflecting the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty he was subjected to. Moreover, he highlighted instances where he was deliberately excluded from crucial meetings and subjected to humiliation in the presence of fellow officers. Such tactics not only jeopardize his reputation but also lay bare the systemic prejudices that continue to impede the progress of marginalized communities within the civil services.

During his tenure as the Principal Secretary of the Administrative Reforms, Inspection, and Training department, Parmar took a bold departure from convention. He embarked on visits to various districts and initiated inquiries into various departments, a move that further endeared him to the causes of transparency and accountability. However, his pursuit of justice came at a steep personal cost, as he was transferred to the Skill Development department on July 18, 2022. This swift transfer was soon followed by yet another reshuffling, as he was posted as the chairman of the Bureau of Public Enterprises in Jammu and Kashmir on August 1.

The gravitas of Parmar’s allegations cannot be overstated, as they have garnered support from influential voices across the political spectrum. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, has called for an impartial probe into the matter. He lamented the apathy of the media, accusing it of being more focused on trivial matters than issues of systemic discrimination and harassment. This sentiment underscores the importance of media as a watchdog and advocate for justice in society.

This disheartening episode also underscores the significance of whistleblower protection and the dire need to foster an environment that encourages individuals to come forward with revelations of corruption and misconduct. When a dedicated officer like Parmar faces such reprisals for his courage, it sends a chilling message to potential truth-tellers, stifling their voices and perpetuating the culture of impunity.

Caste discrimination in india

The case of Ashok Parmar serves as a stark reminder that despite significant strides towards social progress and inclusion, deeply entrenched biases and prejudices continue to mar the fabric of India’s bureaucracy. The nation’s commitment to equality and justice is put to the test when individuals who dare to stand up against corruption and injustice are subjected to harassment and discrimination. Parmar’s case must be a rallying point for introspection and reform, urging stakeholders to prioritize transparency, accountability, and the protection of whistleblowers.

In conclusion, Ashok Parmar’s relentless ordeal spotlights the urgent need for a comprehensive overhaul of the bureaucratic culture in India. His struggle against discrimination, intimidation, and harassment is a testament to the challenges that Dalits and marginalized communities face even in the highest echelons of government. To ensure that Parmar’s sacrifices do not go in vain, there must be a collective effort to demand a thorough investigation into his allegations and to work towards fostering an environment where truth-tellers are celebrated rather than persecuted. Only then can India’s civil services truly reflect the values of justice, equity, and integrity that the nation aspires to uphold.

Courtesy : Inventiva