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Corrupt Mayor enjoying political patronage?

Dimple Mehta, Mayor of Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) has landed herself in trouble over the authenticity of the caste certificate submitted on the basis of which she was elected for coveted post of the civic body. Troubles began for Dimple when Social activist Pradeep Jangam challenged the validity of her caste certificate under relevant sections of the Maharashtra Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Denotified Tribes (Vimukta Jatis), Nomadic Tribes, Other Backward Class and Special Backward Category (Regulation of Issuance of Verification of) Caste Certificate Act, 2000.

Not ruling involvement by officials in the concerned departments, Jangam said, “We have examined all the papers minutely, which were sourced out under the RTI Act, the uncertainties and manipulations in context to the caste validity and inherited status of the Mayor is under question.”

The petitioner had contended that Dimple had obtained OBC certificate by misrepresenting facts. Probative value in context to the authenticity of the domicile status of Mehta was clearly inconclusive. The District Caste Committee will pronounce its decision prior to February 20 after hearing both the sides. Mehta had bagged Mayor’s post by claiming herself to be belonging to the Hindu Darzi caste which is included in Other Backward Class (OBC). Mehta’s submission of invalid documents only highlights about the massive corruption prevalent in Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation. Often Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) had laid traps to arrest several corporators and officials who accepted bribes from citizens. The bribe money collected on whichever position gets circulated from Mayor to ward office. Will action be taken against Dimple if she is proved guilty or will she roam scot-free due to her political connections?

A BMC official under the condition of anonymity told AV that Mehta is backed by senior BJP leaders and they will protect her interest. When we spoke to Dimple Mehta she defended herself and said it is a political conspiracy against her. “I am a law-abiding citizen. I have submitted genuine evidences for obtaining caste certificates and this is supported by all documents from my forefathers’ time. Truth will always remain the truth regardless of such allegations,” she said.

As per an amendment in 2012 to the Caste Certificate Act, 2001, an applicant for a Scheduled Caste (SC) Certificate would have to submit a domicile certificate dating back to 1950. This cut-off year was fixed as 1961 for Nomadic Tribes, and October 13, 1967 for OBC.

When we spoke to an official from District Caste Verification Committee, she refused to comment about this matter.

We also tried to speak to Deepali Joshi (Powar), the Head of Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation’s Social Development Department, but she too refrained from commenting about this issue.

The Mira-Bhayander Mayor’s seat was reserved for a woman from the OBC for two-and-a-half years. Dimple Mehta, a two-time corporator, has been elected from Ward 12. She has also been the former Chairperson of the Women and Child Welfare Committee of the MBMC. Mehta had promised to work for the development of the twin city but will she be able to deliver the promises made by her after this allegation?

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