Vadra: Shunted IAS officer fears for family

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 17, 2012 03:24 hrs

New Delhi: Senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka, who had ordered a probe into a land deal between party supremo Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra and realty firm DLF, has said he fears for his family.

Khemka's transfer was splashed across media outlets on Tuesday and promptly picked by the opposition and activist Arvind Kejriwal to intensify their attack against the Congress-led government at the Centre.

The reports also prompted the Haryana government to assert that Khemka's transfer was not retribution for his decisions even as Kehmka himself appeared on TV news shows to say that he suspected his transfer transpired from "vested interests" who were affected by his order.

"I suspect I was shifted after I ordered probe into Vadra-DLF land deal...[but] I will remain in public service till I am retired...some of the vested interests were hurt by my act," Khemka said speaking to CNN-IBN.

Khemka said that the Punjab and Haryana High Court order appeared to have been used as a pretext to transfer him out.

"If the Haryana government knew I would succumb to pressure, they would not have transferred me...I chose to act even though it involved a super VVIP," he said, adding "I would continue my fight no matter how much I am hounded."

When asked if he had received death threats over the issue, Khemka avoided a direct answer but said that he feared for his family while an associate of Khemka said the IAS officer had received threatening calls.

Khemka, who was in the Land Registration Department, was shunted out after he also ordered a probe into the deal, reports said on Tuesday.

The land in question is an over 3.5-acre plot that Vadra sold to DLF for Rs 58 crore in 2009, according to some reports.

"It is shocking to learn about my abrupt transfer...this is deliberate and malafide to punish me due to some vested elements in the political-bureaucratic hierarchy affected by the expose of the scams in consolidation of land holdings under the exercise of powers," Khemka wrote in his letter to Chief Secretary PK Chaudhary.

Days after ordering the probe on Oct 8, he was shifted as the DG in the Haryana Seed Development Corporation, reports said.

Khemka cancelled the land's mutation before leaving his position.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda however defended the decision to transfer him and said a probe has been ordered into it.

"A transfer is not a punishment," Hooda told media on Tuesday.

"The matter that Khemka has raised has been referred to the Chief Secretary for an investigation," he said.

"The Chief Secretary will probe the matter and if there has been undue favours given then action will be taken," he said.

Warning Khemka, Hooda said: "In case Khemka is found to have misrepresented facts then appropriate action will also be taken."

India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday attacked the Congress on Khemka's transfer and said it showed the 'emergency mindset' of the ruling party.

"The Congress is in complete shamble and doldrums, they do not know what to do next..It is trying to save Robert Vadra," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said here.

"We want an honest and impartial probe into the the matter," he said.

"An honest officer with integrity who has decided to take suo moto action has been transferred. That too at 10 pm," Javadekar said.

"It (transfer) shows the emergency mindset of the Congress," he said.

India Against Corruption (IAC) leader Arvind Kejriwal also slammed the Haryana government and Congress party over the transfer.

"He (Ashok Khemka, the officer who was transferred) is an honest officer. And it is difficult for an honest officer to survive in Haryana now," Kejriwal said.

"We want to know from the Haryana chief minister [Bhupinder Singh Hooda] whether there is any transfer policy of IAS officers in the state or not and what is written in that transfer policy," he asked.

"Is the policy is like this that anyone investigating Vadra would be transferred?" asked Kejriwal.

The activist-turned-politician has made several allegations against Vadra, the reclusive son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, heightening the pitch of attacks against India's ruling party struggling to leave behind a slew of corruption scandals.

Kejriwal "exposed" links between Vadra and the Haryana government with documents that "proved" that the state had favoured the company and acquired land from farmers by trick to hand over to real-estate firm DLF where Vadra held majority shares.

Demanding a white paper on the deals with DLF from the Haryana government, Kejriwal said the farmers were cheated and their land acquired for development of roads and housing for common people were handed over to DLF from where Vadra derived benefits.

On Oct 5, creating a political firestorm, Kejriwal and his team alleged that Vadra made hundreds of crores in return of government favours to the firm.

Kejrwial and his team dropped their "corruption bombshell" by naming Robert Vadra, husband of Priyanka Gandhi, as a beneficiary of Rs 300 crore in a huge property deal by DLF company under which he was allegedly given properties in a throwaway price.

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