IAS officer Ashok Khemka transferred three days after he asked for Robert Vadra-DLF inquiry

Chandigarh:  IAS officer Ashok Khemka was transferred three days after he ordered a probe into all land dealings of Robert Vadra and DLF. Dr Khemka, as the Inspector General of Registration in Haryana, in an order dated October 12, 2012, had asked the deputy commissioners-cum-registrars of the four districts of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal and Mewat to inspect all documents registered from January 1, 2005 till date on behalf of Mr Vadra or his companies.

Speaking to NDTV, Dr Khemka, who has had 40 transfers in his 20-year-career, says," If these problems are brought in sunshine, probably my decisions would appear to be normal correct. But what happens is, inside, you are guided and directed that behave differently. If you do take an action which you call strong but I would call as correct, and then action is taken against you, it's very demoralising, dehumanising and you feel ashamed of yourself that look, there must be something wrong with you that these things are happening. You get words like 'you don't get along well with others, 'there are shades of grey in life' etc. These kinds of euphemism are created to deviate you from the correct path," Mr Khemka told NDTV.

Documents accessed by NDTV show that Mr Khemka was transferred after he ordered a probe into some of Mr Vadra's land deals with DLF.

After allegations were made by activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal and India Against Corruption questioning deals between Mr Vadra and DLF, Mr Khemka initiated a formal inquiry.

Mr Kejriwal said today that it is unfortunate that such an honest officer has been transferred 40 times in the last 20 years. "He upfronted a deal that was to happen between Vadra and DLF and he ordered to cancel the deals. I want to know from Chief Minister that is there a policy in Haryana about transfer? He was transferred in three months. Does that transfer policy say that if you say anything against Vadra and his family then you will be transferred?" Mr Kejriwal said.

Mr Khemka had cancelled the land deal between Mr Vadra and DLF on the last day of his stint on October 15. Surprisingly, the value of the land went up from Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 58 crore in just 65 days after getting the licence.

"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," Mr Khemka said, in a letter written to Chief Secretary PK Chaudhary.

The senior IAS officer seems to be paying the price for standing up for farmers of seven villages in Gurgaon who are trying to get back 19 acres of panchayat land along the Gurgaon-Faridabad highway from private builders. Mr Khemka had, during his 50-day stint in the department, detected how bureaucrats had colluded with politicians to acquire prime plots near highways which were subsequently sold at grossly undervalued rates to realtors. He submitted an affidavit in court that two of his predecessors had side-stepped norms to benefit builders in 2008-09.

"The land was sold by senior officers...they sold it to builders or someone else...God only knows...but we request the government to return our land to the panchayat," said Khushi Ram, a farmer from the Ullawas village in Gurgaon.

But this isn't the first time that Mr Khemka has been transferred. In July, the bureaucrat had been moved out of the Haryana State Electronics Development Corporation (HARTRON) when he drew attention to the certain corrupt prices in the department. The latest transfer is the 43rd in his career.

"I have requested the Chief Secretary to allow me at least two years of posting as per the service rules... frequent transfers like these is demoralising for upright officers," Mr Khemka told NDTV.

But the government has rejected the IAS officer's accusation as his "incorrect perception" that he was being punished "for exposing scams". "It (transfer) is the prerogative of the Government. The officer was transferred for administrative reasons," the Chief Secretary said.

The Opposition, though, has seized upon the mater to criticise the state government for harassing an upright officer. "Hooda government has been exposed...innocent and honest officers are being harassed...those who don't allow corrupt practices are frequently transferred," BJP leader Anil Vij said.

Mr Khemka's transfer seems to be just one among the several cases of political witch-hunt. Earlier, another IAS officer Sanjeev Chaturvedi had met a similar fate before being finally bailed out by the Centre.

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