10 days after he exposed fraud, Jean Dreze aide killed

Ten days after he helped expose embezzlement of MNREGS funds in Jharkhand's Rankikala, leading to an FIR against a former block development officer, a close aide of social activist Jean Dreze was beaten to death in Manika block of Latehar district yesterday.

Niyamat Ansari, 35, is the second aide of Dreze, one of the architects of the rural employment scheme, to have been killed in Jharkhand.

Ansari and Dreze had together taken the lid off embezzlement of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme funds in Rankikala, following which Rs 2 lakh cash was recovered from former Manika BDO Kailash Sahu.

"This made him the target of corrupt contractors and other criminals. False cases were registered against him and at least one attempt had been made on his life earlier," Dreze told The Indian Express.

An FIR in the case named 'Sudarshan', Shankar Dubey, Vijay Dubey, Purushottam Prashad, Arun Singh, Vashisht Tiwari, Prem Chand Singh and Devas Singh. According to Dreze, Shankar Dubey was the mastermind of the embezzlement scam and "was being protected by a politician".

Latehar SP Kuldip Dwivedi said they suspected Sudarshan was a Maoist leader, whose identity they don't know about. Deputy Commissioner Rahul Purwar added "we always supported Ansari as we believe in transparency".

As founder of the MNREGS Sahayata Kendra (MSK), Ansari had launched a drive to ensure that MNREGS workers received payments through banks and post-offices. In 2009, he had also led an agitation that ensured that the administration paid compensation to 78 workers of Kope village who had been unable to find work under the MNREGS.

A resident of Kope village, Ansari was reportedly taken from his home and beaten to death with lathis.

He leaves behind wife Nuresa Bibi, sons Varis, 5 and Akeel, 3, and five-month-old daughter Noor.

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