Patna: A quiet unassuming engineer, who was shot because he dared to fight corruption. This is how India has come to recognize Satyendra Dubey. But in court, this is a man who died because he tried to fight three robbers.
For his family and for the thousands of strangers who campaigned for justice in his case, Monday's verdict is a travesty. But the attempted robbery is the line that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) controversially chose to investigate. And so three men have been convicted for his death, and will be sentenced on the 27th of this month.
"The CBI has fooled the people of the nation. It is a cover-up. We don't know what we can do now," said Satyendra's brother, Dhananjay, to NDTV.
In 2003, Dubey was working for the National Highways Authority, managing a part of the Golden Quadrilateral Project. This was India's most ambitious road project - a network of 14,000 kilometers that would connect the four metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata with multi-lane highways.
"A dream project of unparalleled importance to the nation, but in reality a great loot of public money because of very poor implementation at every state." wrote Dubey in a letter to then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Pointing out large-scale corruption and poor quality control, Dubey tried to expose a conspiracy between contractors building the roads and the officials appointed to check them. He ended his letter by saying: "I have written all these in my individual capacity. However, I will keep on addressing these issues in my official capacity in the limited domain within the powers delegated to me."
He asked for anonymity. Instead, his letter was leaked, exposing him to a mafia that had crores at stake.
A few months later, he was found dead in Gaya, Bihar. And suddenly India woke up to him. Rallies, online petitions and court cases demanding an impartial inquiry into his murder. The government has been forced to consider a law protecting whistle-blowers who seek to expose corruption in high offices.