Ashok Khemka: In The Eye Of The Storm

Posted on October 21, 2012 in Politics

By Nayan Bhatnagar:

In another incident throwing light on the misuse of power by the Indian bureaucrats, Ashok Khemka, an IAS officer was transferred for no reason by the Haryana government. This shows the fate of whistleblowers in India.

Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of India’s most powerful political dynasty has been whole-heartedly defended by the Congress. The President of India, who was supposed to take an unbiased stand on the issue, cancelled any probe into the case even before it began. According to sources, corporate houses like TATA and Reliance took decades to climb the ladder of success and reach its epitome, whereas Robert Vadra took less than ten years to become the country’s fastest multi-billionaire.

Ashok Khemka had ordered a probe into the land deals between the Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law and businessman, Robert Vadra and the real-estate giant DLF. On Monday, the 15th of October, 2012, Khemka had cancelled DLF’s purchase of 3.5 acres of land from Vadra for Rs 58 crores. As a result, his transfer orders were delivered to his house, instead of being handed to him during his working hours, even when his transfer wasn’t due.

Did the fear of getting exposed force the Haryana government to take this step? On being questioned, the Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, said “There’s no punishment posting, transfers a prerogative of the government.” This statement of his does not sound convincing as Ashok Khemka, in his twenty-one years of administrative service has been transferred forty-two times across India and officially, it is illegal to transfer officers if they have not completed two years in a posting. This action has sent shock waves around the nation, especially to all those who wish to lift the cap of corruption from the various people in power.

Whistleblowers in India have always been dealt with in an unruly manner. If an IAS officer faces such consequences, one can imagine what a common man would go through. Ashok Khemka has, so far, only faced transfer orders, others weren’t that lucky as they lost their lives while fighting against corruption. A case in point is Satyendra Dubey, who was murdered in 2003 after fighting corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral Highway Project.

Dubey, an illustrious engineering graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, was a project director in the National Highways Authority of India. The case was even highlighted on the popular show, Satyamev Jayate. In another instance, a senior police officer, who alleged that Mayawati’s government was corrupt and had embezzled large amounts of money, was sent to a mental hospital. In a recent case, an IPS officer, who was investigating into a multi-million public distribution scheme scam in Arunachal Pradesh that took place in 2008, had gone missing on his way to Tawang from Itanagar. He had apparently reached the final stage of his probe on the scam.

Well, these are just few instances about how people who have tried to pull the trigger against corruption have faced life-threatening consequences. Many cases are not even reported. Is this the price that honest and daring people have to pay?