LUCKNOW: In a novel attempt to deter officials from engaging in corruption, a young IAS officer has come up with the idea of ‘jail tourism’ in which government officials are given a glimpse of life in prison with the hope that such a tour would condition their minds against committing graft.
“The idea is to instill a sense of fear against corruption in the minds of officials to dissuade them from indulging in such practices,” said Farrukhabad district magistrate Ravindra Kumar, a 2011 batch IAS officer who came up with the idea. “They will be made to take a tour of the jail premises and see for themselves how life is behind the bars,” said the officer, adding that it could be the fate of all those who do not think twice before misusing their position for personal interest.
“The tour will show the officials how many of their colleagues, who once had illustrious careers, are leading a caged life due to one wrong step,” he said. Kumar, a former seafarer and a mountaineer who had scaled the Mount Everest in 2013, chose over 575 government officials of different departments to have a glimpse of jailed life.
“As I was getting maximum complaints of corruption from land revenue department, the first batch of officers to visit central jail consisted mainly of Lekhpals, kanoongos and tehsildars. Then came the department of food and civil supplies which are plagued by corruption. So I asked all ‘kotedars’ and supply inspectors along with BDOs, grampanchayat Adhikaris and other officials of Vikas Vibhag to visit the jail once and talk to inmates to get an idea of life in prison,” he said.
Kumar believes that probes ordered in graft cases are themselves vulnerable to corruption. That is why, a fresh approach was necessary. “If a case of graft is reported against an official and an inquiry is ordered, a window for another act of corruption opens up as the inquiry officer can also be vulnerable and a bargain at his level may take place. This may lead to a compromised report which will be far from reality.
Sometimes even after the FIRs are lodged, the cases are ‘managed’ and the reality gets suppressed,” the DM said. “As in many corruption cases, the explanation sought from the official involved fails to give the actual picture, so I thought a deterrent was needed to hit the point home,” said Kumar.
The officials are given an hour to interact with the prison inmates. “The inmates narrate their way of life in jail to the visiting guests. There is a chain of corruption in the system. I tried to tell the officers that neither should they expect bribe from their subordinates and nor oblige their seniors in order to break the chain of corruption,” the DM said. He hopes that this initiative creates an impact on the minds of the officials and they keep away from corruption.
There are over 85 government employees from across the state lodged in central jail in Farrukhabad. Kumar thanked the present Uttar Pradesh government that has adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards graft and for giving free hand to officials to deal with corrupt elements.