Price Of Honesty: IAS Officer Ashok Khemka Transferred For The 52nd Time In 27 Yrs
Transfer and posting orders were issued by the Haryana government on Sunday, March 3, with immediate effect for nine IAS officers, including senior bureaucrat Ashok Khemka of the 1991 batch.
Ashok Khemka, principal secretary of the Sports and Youth Affairs Department, has now been posted as Science and Technology Department’s principal secretary. He had been posted here earlier too. Khemka has been transferred as many as six times ever since 2014 when the current BJP government came to power.
Ashok Khemka transferred
He has been transferred 52 times in his 27 years of active service, reported Scroll. This time, no reason was mentioned in the transfer order that was issued by issued by Chief Secretary DS Dhesi. “A copy is forwarded to the officers concerned for information and necessary action,” it said.
“He (Khemka) is a good man. I hope he brings new dimensions to science and technology in the state,” Haryana BJP spokesperson Raman Malik said.
His transfer order was issued only hours after his interaction with The Indian Express was published, in which he spoke about Aravallis land consolidation, pointing out that “it will fuel the greed of land sharks”. The amendments to the act that Khemka criticised allow construction in the Aravalli hills. The amendments that the Haryana Assembly passed to the law opened thousands of acres of land to non-forest and real estate activity. Earlier, the land was protected as forest land. The amendments were the “need of the hour”, said Chief Minister ML Khattar.
A six-year-old order of Khemka was recently reversed by the state government in which consolidation process of 3,184 acres of land had been withdrawn by him in village Kot in Faridabad. He did this after an inquiry revealed that 2,565 acres of the land comprised an uncultivable hilly area of Aravallis, reported The Indian Express. “Consolidation proceedings in the eco-fragile zone of the Aravalli will not increase agricultural productivity, but fuel the greed of land sharks. An inquiry into land purchases will unravel the truth,” Khemka had said.
Earlier, Khemka’s fight against corruption
The 1991-batch IAS officer was the one responsible for cancelling Robert Vadra’s land deal with DLF in 2012. He had reported a corruption between Rs 20,000 crore to Rs 35,000 crore in illegal land deals.
His tryst with Congress isn’t unknown. When BJP came into power in 2014, it praised Khemka as an ‘upright officer’ and blamed the Congress for targeting the IAS officer. The Union Cabinet secretary also made a recommendation to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to send him on a central deputation.
But the acclaim was as short-lived as BJP’s promise of ‘Achhe Din’. The one who was used as a pawn by the then opposition against the ruling party has time and again been harassed by the BJP-led government for corrupt politics.
In 2015, the ruling party indicted Khemka for allegedly having committed ‘procedural irregularities’ during his tenure as the managing director of the Haryana State Warehouse Corporation (HSWC). But documents and file notings revealed discrepancies that contradicted the government’s stance. In 2016, Haryana minister Anil Vij reportedly came out in support of Khemka and called him the most honest IAS officer as well. “Truth always prevails and honesty never goes in vain,” said the BJP MLA.
Other IAS officers transferred
Along with Khemka, nine other IAS officers have been transferred. An official release said that it includes Amit Jha, who has now been posted as additional chief secretary of Sports and Youth Affairs Department and advisor to Haryana Saraswati Heritage Board. Earlier, he was additional chief secretary of Medical Education and Research, advisor to Haryana Saraswati Heritage Board and additional chief secretary of Science and Technology Department.
Siddhi Nath Roy, additional chief secretary of Forests and Wildlife Department, received additional charges of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department as Additional Chief Secretary. Rajeev Arora received an additional charge of Medical Education and Research Department. He is the additional chief secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department and chief resident commissioner of Haryana Bhawan.
Apoorva Kumar Singh, Amit Kumar Agrawal, Wazeer Singh Goyat, Chander Shekhar and Vijay Kumar Siddappa Bhavikatti are officers who have been transferred, reported India Today.
In 2017, the Haryana Government had transferred 19 IAS officers, including the state’s senior bureaucrat, Pradeep Kasni, who witnessed a record amount of sixty-eight transfers throughout his thirty-three years of service in Haryana state. In 2018, he retired with a career spanning 34 years and 71 transfers.
While the price of honesty should be appreciated, the Haryana government’s treatment of its honest bureaucrats speaks otherwise. The Logical Indian deeply condemns the Haryana government’s transfer of IAS officer Ashok Khemka.