Senior Haryana cadre IAS officer Ashok Khemka Sunday said the action taken by suspended Uttar Pradesh IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal against the sand mafia was legal and a “bold step”.
“Very few young IAS officers would have dared to do this (taking on the sand mafia). It was a very bold step. Her act was as per law,” Khemka said.
“Even I would not have taken this step (at that age). She behaved like a public servant who did her duty,” Khemka said.
Khemka’s name has figured in the row over the suspension of Nagpal by the Uttar Pradesh government after Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Aggarwal questioned Congress president Sonia Gandhi for writing a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene vis-a-vis the woman officer.
Aggarwal wanted to know if Gandhi wrote a similar letter when Khemka was targeted by the Hooda government in Haryana.
Khemka, a 1991 batch IAS officer in Haryana, was targeted by successive governments in Haryana. He has been transferred 43 times in over two decades.
Of these, 19 transfers have been done by the present Bhupinder Singh Hooda government since March 2005.
Khemka was in the spotlight in October when he cancelled the mutation of the controversial Rs.58-crore land deal between UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra and realty giant DLF in Gurgaon district.
He also ordered an enquiry into all of Vadra's land deals in four Haryana district around Delhi since 2005.
Khemka refused to be drawn on the Samajwadi Party-Gandhi tussle.
"This doesn't concern me at all. These are matters between the Samajwadi Party and Sonia Gandhi. Let them decide," he said.
Nagpal was suspended ostensibly for breaking down a wall of the mosque, an action the Uttar Pradesh government said could have communal tension.
But the widespread belief -- strengthened by a Samajwadi Party leader's public claim -- is that action was taken against her because she took on a mafia extracting sand illegally from the river bed in Noida.
Khemka, a computer engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, had earlier told IANS that he had been hounded for "just doing my duty" and had no intention of quitting.
"I have only been doing my duty as an officer. I am not a quitter. I am a part of this system and will stay in it. I am proud of it," Khemka had said, adding that the frequent shifting did not worry him.
He said his targeting by the Hooda government was "initially subtle" but had become "blatant".
After being unceremoniously transferred out as director genreal (consolidation), Khemka was ousted as managing director of the Haryana Seeds Development Corp (HSDC) in April this year after he exposed major irregularities in the purchase of fungicides from an international manufacturer. He remained on this post for just about five months.
Khemka's postings in various departments have lasted from a mere 4-5 days to one year and eight months.