Whitleblower Ashok Khemka, a senior IAS officer, was abruptly transferred from the post of director general of Consolidation of Land Holdings, after he raised questions on the Robert Vadra-DLF land deal in Shikohpur in Haryana, but also ordered a thorough probe into the issue on October 8 and then cancelled the mutation. Khemka says he's under pressure but says he will continue to fight. We look at some of the most prominent whistleblowers from history:
Former Swedish police chief Sten Lindstrom blew the whistle on the Bofors arms deal scandal, but revealed himself only recently, 25 years later to the public eye. He acquitted Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan from any relations to a scandal that tarnished the image of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his government. He had leaked confidential information to a journalist from the newspaper, The Hindu in 1987.
Satyendra Dubey was the Assistant Project Manager of National Highway 2, a part of the Golden Quadrilateral project. When Dubey uncovered irregularities in the project and high-level corruption in the NHAI, he wrote to the Prime Minister, with a separate bio-data and a request to keep his identity anonymous. But the letter was forwarded to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Dubey was later shot dead on November 27, 2003 in Gaya, Bihar. He was posthumously honored with many awards.
Shanmughan Manjunath's murder drew a lot of media attention. An employee of Indian Oil Corporation, he was shot dead on November 23, 2005 in the backseat of his car, following his iron-fisted ruling to seal down petrol pumps selling adulterated fuel in Lucknow. His IIM Lucknow batchmates ensured that 16 months later, the main accused, the petrol pump owner was sentenced to death while seven others were given a life term.
'Deep Throat' W. Mark Felt is one of the topmost names recollected among whistleblowers. The former FBI Associate Director brought about the resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon as well as the imprisonment of the top brass in the White House. Journalists of the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and their Editor Benjamin C. Bradlee were the only people aware of the true identity of Deep Throat in the Watergate scandal for 31 years, till he finally revealed himself on May 31, 2005, in an article in Vanity Fair magazine.
Linda Tripp was a White House employee who blew the lid on former President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky's affair. She alleged that Lewinsky committed perjury in a deposition regarding Lewinsky's relationship with President Bill Clinton, using taped telephone conversations as evidence. She also succeeded in claims against the Clinton administration for violating her right to privacy, when personal information from her files was leaked to the press.
As Vice President of Corporate Development at the Enron Corporation, Sherron Watkins helped uncover the Enron scandal in 2001. Her testimony in 2002 was appreciated by Time magazine with a "People of the Year 2002" award.
'Cigarettes are injurious to health' was attested to first by tobacco executive Jeffrey Wigand. His interview to “60 Minutes” back in 1995 forced cigarette manufacturers to admit that they knew nicotine was addictive and carcinogenic. The entire tobacco industry was overhauled and subjected to civil settlements in various states. He was later portrayed by Russell Crowe in the 1999 film The Insider.
Daniel Ellsberg was the man behind the 'Pentagon Papers'- documents that alleged the U.S. government continued the Vietnam War despite being aware that they could not win it. The ensuing public outcry forced the Nixon administration to have peace talks. Incidentally, Ellsberg's 'two new heroes' are WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and whistleblower Bradley Manning, currently arrested for leaking classified content of U.S. soldiers killing civilian Iraqis and two Reuters journalists.
Julian Paul Assange is best known as the founder of WikiLeaks. The hacker activist has published information regarding murders in Kenya, Guantanamo Bay atrocities, U.S. diplomatic cables and war documents among others. His name is among the top brass of investigative journalists, and no amount of cases against him seem to be able to bulldoze his work. His talk show 'The World Tomorrow' is his latest venture in forcing the hand of big guns.