Who dares wins

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Hard at work Ministhy Dileep made sure that illegal arms dealers in Mainpuri shut their shops
Hard at work Ministhy Dileep made sure that illegal arms dealers in Mainpuri shut their shops

IT ALL started innocuously enough in a dusty town in Uttar Pradesh. The new District Magistrate (DM) of the Mainpuri district, a no-nonsense 35-year-old woman from Kerala used to straight roads and a landscape peopled by men who don’t usually carry firearms as a fashion accessory, decided to clean up her domain in time for the impending Lok Sabha elections.

A look at the records and an investigatory round of the town revealed that many arms shops are being run from many houses and even from shops selling medicines and kitchen vessels. A closer look also revealed that many ‘shops’ with arms licenses did not exist at all and that many gun owners did not have valid licenses.

It was enough to raise the hackles of any right-thinking official. But while the distance between thinking right and doing right is often too onerous to bridge, Mainpuri’s new DM, Ministhy Dileep, went ahead and compelled illegal arms dealers to shut shop. She also enforced the Model Code of Conduct strictly, and warned that re-polling would be ordered in booths that would register over 70 percent voting.

Perhaps all this was too much to take. Former UP Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party (SP) Leader, Mulayam Singh Yadav, thundered at an election rally last week: “She is a woman and that is why I am not making any comments about her. She should get her brain checked and should be aware of the fact that Mulayam is contesting from Mainpuri.”

Defending his party chief, SP leader Amar Singh told a TV channel: “He has not made any critical comments so serious as to rock the boat of the state or district administration.”

Apparently, the 100 or so illegal arms dealers whom Dileep put out of business had been working hard to get Mulayam Singh Yadav to shoot his mouth off. The DM did not come on the line when TEHELKA called her mobile phone.

“Whatever Mulayam Singh Yadav said is really very disgusting,” says Tripti Shakya, the BJP candidate for Mainpuri.

AS SOON as Yadav’s comments became public, the media woke up to the existence of Dileep. Correspondents trawled the Internet for the minutest detail about her and happily struck a rich vein. Dileep has an electronic trail that goes right back to the 1990s.

Online, you can find her essays on the pleasures of reading children’s literary classics by EB White and Kenneth Grahame, humourous pieces on life with small children — she has two daughters — and thoughtful articles on a woman’s work-life balance. The reader can’t but be struck by how different the worldview of the BE graduate and XLRI alumnus, Ministhy Dileep, is from that of Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Arms shops are being run from homes, and many gun owners don’t have valid licenses

It isn’t often that District Magistrates of mofussil towns occupy the urban mind-space. But now there’s even a Ministhy vs Mulayam group up on Facebook.

On the official front, the Election Commission has issued a notice to Yadav for what it sees as a clear “threat” to the officer. All of which must come as a relief to the returning officer’s family. “Why do you even want to talk about this? Newspapers should not sensationalise matters or build them out of proportion,” her father RS Nair, who lives in Thiruvananthapuram, a world away from Mainpuri, told TEHELKA.

Though Ministhy Dileep has discreetly avoided doling out soundbites to the media, if her electronic avatar is anything to go by, some day soon readers can expect a first-person account of her run-in with the leader of the Samajwadi Party.

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