Karnataka takes to streets over 'suicide' of whistleblower

IAS officer D K RavikumarProtesters took to the streets of Bengaluru and Kolar in Karnataka today demanding that the death of 36-year-old Indian Administrative Service officer D K Ravikumar be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, raising questions about the local police's explanation of suicide.

Ravikumar, a known campaigner against the state's sand mining mafia, was found dead in his apartment in Bengaluru on Monday. His wife returned home to find him hanging from a ceiling fan.

There was a publicly-supported bandh in Kolar, where Ravikumar was known as an honest and fearless district collector. Transport was off the roads today and schools and colleges stayed shut.

In Bengaluru, political parties like the Aam Aadmi Party and Jai Karnataka held protests.

Opposition parties raised Ravikumar's death in the state assembly, demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation probe.

The police said on Monday that they suspected suicide, though they found no note. Bengaluru Police Commissioner M N Reddi said today that the post-mortem report is awaited.

Amid mounting public and political pressure, Karnataka chief minister Siddharamiah visited the officer's home.

"Prime facie it is suicide. Enquiry and investigation is on. We do not know the exact cause," he said, promising a fair investigation.

Former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular) said friends and colleagues of Ravikumar said he was a strong-willed man and not the kind to commit suicide.

Ravikumar was a 2009 batch IAS officer on deputation with the Commercial Tax Department.

Kumaraswamy said that over the past month, Ravikumar had taken some hard decisions against big builders. There were also reports that the officer continued to get threats from the sand mafia.

The Bengaluru Police has set up a three-member team to investigate the case.

Reports say the administrator had returned to his apartment in a housing complex from office around 11 am on Monday, and went up alone while his driver waited for him. Police say he did not seem to have had any visitors after that.

When Ravi's wife returned home, the door was locked from inside and had to be opened with a duplicate key.

The Karnataka police said they will examine CCTV footage from the apartment complex and analyse Ravi's mobile records.