The man who would not bribe

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Datta Patil, 47, ICHALKARANJI, MAHARASHTRA

MURDERED FOR: Raising his voice against corruption. Exposed corporators from the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation when they took bribes up to Rs. 50 lakh

Samrat Chakrabarti

WE CAN TELL YOU about the people Datta Patil, the small-time farmer from Ichalkaranji, met. D Merashi, a sub-inspector with the Anti- Corruption Bureau who said to him, “We need a man like you to get us started.” Or activist Anna Hazare or BR Ambedkar in his books. Or Indian Express journalist Vasantrao Pimparkare with whom he would have long discussions about how a common man could transform society.

Or we could tell you about the people who met Datta Patil, an important man in Ichalkaranji. It was an everyday sight to see 200 people outside his house, seeking advice for tackling the government without bribes. He was a trained pehelwan and had the discipline of one. Claiming friendship with Patil’s friend could improve your chances in the marriage market.

What everyone in Kolhapur knows is what Patil did with the RTI. He exposed a 130 crore scam, involving Latur MP Jaywant Rao Awade. He exposed 56 Kolhapur Municipal corporators when they took bribes up to 50 lakh as part of political horsetrading. He proved the SP K Padmanabhan had set up a police station without proper sanction. Even the Ichalkaranji Nagarpalika was not spared when Patil showed they had siphoned 67 crore out of the water supply project. Or we could tell you how Patil, who was once in the district kabbadi team, died. On 26 May 2010, he did not return from his sugarcane field. He was found lying in the field next to his motorcycle. Patil had been blinded with chilli powder and then stabbed. For three months before he was murdered, he had received threats. Two weeks before he was killed, he had complained to the police who told him, ‘Don’t worry, who would have the balls to harm you?’ We can’t tell you who killed Datta Patil because nothing has come out of the investigation into his murder.

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