Chandigarh: Terming his transfer as “painful”, whistleblower IAS officer Ashok Khemka, who shot into limelight after he questioned Robert Vadra’s land deals in Haryana, said he tried to address corruption and bring reforms in state transport department despite “severe limitations and entrenched interests”.
“Tried hard to address corruption and bring reforms in Transport despite severe limitations and entrenched interests. Moment is truly painful,” 49-year-old Khemka said in a tweet a day after he was moved to Archaeology and Museums Department by the Manohar Lal Khattar government.
Meanwhile, Haryana’s Health Minister Anil Vij came out in Khemka’s support, saying he will talk to the Chief Minister regarding the officer “who had worked to weed out corruption during the previous Congress regime”.
Khemka has been transferred 45 times in his nearly 22-year long career, with the officer not occupying any post beyond few months.
When asked about the decision, Vij told reporters in Ambala, “I will talk to the Chief Minister regarding Khemka’s transfer.”
Vij, an outspoken BJP leader and Ambala Cantt MLA, said that he had always stood by Khemka, “who had worked to weed out corruption during the previous Congress regime”.
The BJP Government in the state had last night issued transfer and posting orders of nine IAS officers including Khemka with immediate effect.
Khemka, who was in November last year posted as Transport Commissioner and Secretary, Transport Department, has now been posted as Secretary, Archaeology and Museums Department and Director General, Archaeology and Museums, a posting considered as “low profile”.
The government did not mention any reason for his transfer. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s OSD Bhupeshwar Dayal termed it as an administrative matter.
However, Haryana’s Transport Minister Ram Bilas Sharma maintained that “transfer is not a punishment” and stressed that it was a “routine” matter.
“Transfer is not a punishment, a promotion or demotion. Transfer of senior officers is a routine matter. There is nothing special or extraordinary about it,” he said while replying to queries on the issue.
He said decisions are taken after the chief minister holds consultations with his council of ministers.
Notably, as Transport Commissioner, Khemka had refused to issue fitness certificates to over-sized trucks and trailers for carrying automobiles leading to a truckers’ strike in January.
Later, the truckers in Haryana withdrew their strike after the state government gave them one year’s time to get their vehicles modified as per the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR), 1989.
Khemka, in a tweet then, had said that “60 per cent of road accidents due to overloaded and over-sized transport vehicles. Industry cooperation needed to stop this road menace.”
The Transport Minister denied that the move to replace Khemka as Transport Commissioner was related to his decision reagrading truckers.
“No. Nothing like that. It is a routine matter,” he said to a query on the issue.
In one of his tweets last week, Khemka while quoting Rabindranath Tagore had mentioned “If no one responds to your call, then go your own way alone”.
Earlier in 2012 when he was posted as Director-General of Land Consolidation and Land Records-cum-Inspector General of Registration, Khemka had brought land deals of businessman Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi, under the scanner.
During the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government, the official had cancelled the mutation of the multi-crore land deal between Vadra’s company Skylight Hospitality Pvt Ltd and DLF, terming it as illegal. However, the previous Hooda government gave clean chit to Vadra in the land deal.
Last week, Khemka in a tweet had said that his action in Vadra-DLF land-licence deal has been “vindicated in the CAG report..”
“Undue favours” to builders, including Robert Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality, by the Haryana Government during the Congress regime has come under attack from the Comptroller and Auditor General.