Harinandan Prasad Sinha
He was Jharkhand’s very own Anna Hazare and his ability to sniff out corruption was stronger than his luck.
Sadar block supply officer Harinandan Prasad Sinha, who was bludgeoned to death at home on Thursday afternoon, had survived one attempt on life in his career, but exposed as many as 40 cases of irregularities in the public distribution system (PDS) during his 3-year tenure in Hazaribagh.
As many as 18 of these cases were lodged in the past four months alone.
February was the big crackdown month for the 55-year-old fair price inspector — who friends claimed enjoyed his earlier stint as college lecturer better — when more than a dozen vendors were pulled up for blackmarketing kerosene.
Three wholesale stores in the town allot 108 vendors 200 litres of the fuel every week for area-wise distribution. However, 15 of them were found to be pilfering 50-60 litres of kerosene every week.
Sinha had lodged an FIR against all these vendors following a surprise raid on an order from deputy commissioner Manish Ranjan.
Police records confirmed three more cases lodged by him this year under the Essential Commodities Act.
On April 28, a fair price shop at Subhas Marg — owned by one Manoj Kumar Gupta, who was interrogated after Sinha’s murder on Thursday — was raided. Stocks showed shortage of around 70 litres of kerosene and 8kg of foodgrains. An FIR (No. 366/12) was lodged with sadar police.
A similar grain pilferage case (No. 334/12) was registered with Muffasil police against another PDS dealer, Mohammad Irshad, the same day.
Earlier, on March 26, kerosene vendor Manoj Ram was booked under the act at sadar police station.
Surprisingly, neither the police nor the district supply office could provide details on other individual cases and shops that had come under Sinha’s lens.
Fair Price Dealers’ Association general secretary Sunil Kumar Sinha, however, confirmed that the block supply officer had lodged 40 cases since 2008, when he took charge in Hazaribagh.
Superintendent of police Pankaj Kamboj said “investigation is moving in the right direction” and that they were reviewing cases lodged by Sinha. “We are focusing on cases to reach the culprits,” he told The Telegraph.
Kamboj said it was Sinha’s duty to lodge cases against corrupt dealers, but they were looking whether his campaign was linked to his murder.
He said that the assailants had not planned the murder. “There was an argument first after which the trio used an iron block as well as a knife in the house to kill Sinha,” he pointed out.
Police, who checked Sinha’s cellphone call details, summoned 21 people in all on Thursday night for questioning. Besides, Gupta, Sunil Kumar Sinha was also quizzed. The SP remained tight-lipped on the interrogation.
Meanwhile, a doctor who conducted the post-mortem at Hazaribagh sadar hospital said Sinha was hit on the head three times with the iron block and four times with a knife.
Family sources said this was not the first attempt on the righteous officer’s life. “He was attacked in Munger (Bihar) in 1996, but escaped unhurt,” nephew Sanjay Kumar said, adding that Sinha had inherited strong values from his freedom fighter father.
In August last year, Sinha was also held hostage by a group of agitated PDS dealers when he went to raid their shops in Ichak.
The government official had a penchant for academics. He completed school from Huntergunj block in Chatra district and pursued intermediate and graduation from Chatra College.
He then went to Ranchi, where he studied LLB and later joined PK Roy Memorial College in Dhanbad as a lecturer in history in year 1988. He quit after being selected as a supply inspector through Bihar Public Service Commission exam in 1993. He was later promoted as block supply officer.
On Friday, his body was cremated at his native village Roopnagar in Huntergunj.