Two recent incidents of bribery have blown up badly in the bribe-takers’ faces. On Wednesday last, a fourth-grade contractual employee of the Gauhati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) was approached by a group of people from his village near Hajo. An elderly person in the group had lost his nephew, who had earlier died of high fever when brought to the GMCH. So they had all come to claim the youth’s body lying at the morgue. Normally, people go out of their way to help the family and friends of a dead person. But even while ostensibly helping his grief-stricken fellow villagers locate the body, the employee spun a false tale to extort a bribe. He told them that the police had some suspicions about the youth and the manner of his death. So the group of villagers paid the GMCH employee a bribe of Rs 2,000 to get the body released without any police hassles. All would have been well if the casual employee had gotten the correct body released. Instead, he mistakenly handed over the body of an aged man which had been lying unclaimed in the morgue for three days. The ‘body swap’ was discovered only after the villagers had returned to Hajo and were getting ready for burial rites. Angrily they brought the body back to the morgue and demanded handover of the correct body. Later the uncle of the dead youth rued that he had not lifted the shroud to check the identity of the body at the morgue, as he had placed total faith upon the GMCH employee from his village. His misdeed exposed, the casual employee has now been fired from his job. Meanwhile, anti-corruption sleuths on Thursday caught an excise superintendent red-handed at his Golaghat office while extorting a bribe of Rs 25,000 from a woman. It turned out that the woman had petitioned the DC to get a wine shop shifted away from the vicinity of her house. So she tipped off the sleuths, who trapped the excise official just when he was demanding his ‘cut’. Both these incidents show how deeply corruption has seeped into our public services. That the culprits were caught out was only because the victims had the gumption to stand tall and fight back strongly.
food for thought