PATNA: Upset over the casteism in the bureaucracy and politics in Bihar, a block development officer (BDO), who is currently under suspension, has threatened to convert to Islam unless the state government reinstates him in the post by February 7. Manoj Kumar Agrawal, the suspended BDO of Ramgarh Chowk block in Lakhiserai district, appears to have been caught in the continuous one-upmanship games that caste groups and political parties engage in for supremacy.
“Being a Hindu and having to work for the government under such toxic conditions now means honesty will invariably make one the victim of caste politics,” said Agrawal, a Bihar Rural Service officer who became a BDO in 2013.
The officer, who is the son of a well-known freedom fighter from Begusarai, has written to the state’s rural development secretary Arvind Kumar saying he would convert to Islam unless he is reinstated. “If it does not happen, I will renounce Hinduism, which is full of casteist feelings and deep contradictions, and convert to Islam,” he wrote.
The suspension order, he said, was issued without he being given an opportunity to present his case. Agrawal was placed under suspension on the charge of abusing his position for personal gains, working contrary to the rules framed for people’s representatives, disobeying departmental orders and misinforming senior officials.
According to people familiar with the case, Agrawal’s hasty suspension was the result of the rivalry between two ministers from the area — Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh of JD(U) and Vijay Kumar Sinha of ally BJP — and between local politicians from the upper caste Bhumihar and the OBC Kurmi communities.
“Ever since Agrawal joined as BDO in Ramgarh Chowk in June 2018 following Sinha’s recommendation, he was considered a ‘Bhajpayi adhikari’ (BJP-backed officer) and was not liked by Lalan Singh’s supporters. The BDO’s strictness was resisted by Lalan’s supporters,” said a senior official familiar with the episode.“The suspended BDO should place his grievance in the proper forum,” said Lakhiserai DDC V K Mandal.
victim of rivalry
“Ever since Agrawal joined as BDO in June 2018 after Rajiv Ranjan Sinha’s recommendation, he was considered a ‘BJP man’. His strictness with corrupt and inefficient panchayat secretaries was resisted by Lalan Singh’s supporters,” said a senior official