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When young IAS officer Sanjay Kothari saved the lives of hundreds
Haryana just celebrated golden jubilee of its existence. During my forty years stint as a journalist with The Indian Express Group of newspapers in Haryana, I had  seen very good and bad officers, both corrupt and honest. Some highly dedicated to their duty while some who had totally surrendered before power.

Hero of today's story is Sanjay Kothari, IAS officer of Haryana cadre who is presently posted with the President of India as his secretary. In 1980, Sanjay was posted as SDM at Narwana in Jind district of Haryana and I was a reporter forThe Indian Express at Jind. Bhajan Lal was the Chief Minister and illicit liquor trade was flourishing under political and police patronage. Forty people had died and several blinded after consuming spurious liquor purchased from government authorised liquor vends. People from neighboring villages had purchased large quantities of liquor.

Sanjay Kothari got all the vends sealed and ensured that announcements were made warning people in villages not to consume liquor purchased from the vends in the last few days. He also asked the DSP to conduct raids and arrest the liquor contractors. But the DSP forewarned the liquor contractors that the police would have to raid their premises since Sanjay Kothari was a very strict officer. Based of this tip off the liquor contractors ran away destroying the remaining stock of hooch.

At that time leading English magazine Caravan had reported that despite repeated threats, Pawan Bansal, a young reporter of The Indian Express filed a news report about the local DSP helping the liquor mafia which was published in his paper which led to the matter being raised in the Parliament. After publishing of that news story, the DSP was suspended following dressing-down of the Haryana CM by the Prime Minister.

Shockingly, when this reporter asked a senior cop that whether liquor racketeers could be arrested under National Security Act, the cop replied that the contractors were not intentionally playing with the lives of the people adding that it was their sheer bad luck that people had died.

While Sanjay says that he couldn't allow the people to be victimised, a diary recovered during the raid carrying names of top cops, politicians and excise officers who were getting bribes from liquor contractors, was burnt by a top cop.

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