The difficulty of being Jharkhand whistleblower Durga Oraon

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - 16:57

Ranchi: His petition led to the unearthing of the Rs.2,500 crore money laundering scam allegedly involving former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda. Two years later, things are not easy for Durga Oraon, who finds his life shrouded by security and secrecy.

Oraon, 36, whose real name is Durga Munda, had to be in hiding for a long time and now that he has been produced before court, he is finding the security restrictions difficult given his modest circumstances, says his lawyer.

He had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) with a changed surname to keep his identity secret.

Oraon hails from a farmer family. He makes a living as a small land broker. He has a cycle and a small two-room house at Marabadi in Ranchi where he lives with his wife, two children, parents and three brothers.

The state government has provided him six security personnel armed with sophisticated weapons like SLRs and Insas rifles at the directive of the Jharkhand High Court. And since they accompany him everywhere, movement has become a problem for him.

"If only I had a vehicle to travel in and a better house... I also find it difficult to make ends meet, so it would be good if I had a steady means of income," Oraon told reporters.

His mobile number is also being kept secret for security reasons.

"We appeal to the state government to provide a vehicle and a house for security reasons to Durga Oraon. This is why Durga had not been appearing in the court," Rajiv Kumar, Oraon`s lawyer, told reporters.

"Durga somehow makes a living and does not have a car. How will security personnel move with him on a cycle?"

In his public interest litigation (PIL), Oraon sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the assets of Koda and six former Jharkhand ministers. After filing the PIL in October 2008, he remained underground for security reasons.

According to investigating agencies, Koda and his aide are accused of causing a loss to the Jharkhand treasury by awarding illegal mining contracts across the state. The high court last month ordered a CBI probe while hearing the petition.
The result of the PIL is all too visible as Koda and former ministers Harinaryan Rai, Kamlesh Singh and Enos Ekka have been in jail for more than a year.

The Jharkhand High Court while hearing the PIL had directed lawyers to produce Oraon in court. He failed to appear on several occasions to keep his identity secret.
When state police failed to produce him, the court directed the CBI to do so. CBI produced Oraon Sep 6 and the state government was directed to provide him full security cover.

Oraon is now planning to meet Chief Minister Arjun Munda to request him to provide a vehicle and house for security reasons.

After all, he is the face of the common man who brought corruption to light.

IANS



First Published: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - 16:57

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