IAS officer Khemka who ordered probe into Vadra land deals receives “threat calls”

CHANDIGARH: Senior Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka, who is in the news following controversy over land deals involving Robert Vadra, is receiving threat calls from unknown people.

“I met him and he told me that he has received some phone calls in which people have threatened him and asked him to stop his activities,” Khemka’s friend and noted lawyer, Anupam Gupta said.

“The callers asked him to desist or else he would be eliminated. He further told me that those threatening him also talked about having given a ‘supari’ to eliminate him,” Gupta said.

He said that if the calls persist then Khemka may think of moving the court to seek security.

Earlier today, when asked if he was under any kind of pressure from politicians or senior bureaucrats, Khemka replied, “they know what type of person I am and I don’t accept any pressure”.

However, in his letter to Chief Secretary P K Chaudhery last week, a day after his transfer on October 11, Khemka wrote, “my family feels threatened due to certain vested elements whose interests were adversely affected by the exposure of scams in this department (last posting). I plead for security and fixed tenure in a cadre post befitting my seniority”.

Khemka, who was removed as Inspector General of Registration in the wake of his ordering a probe into all the land dealings of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law in four districts of Haryana, has hit back at the government saying it was “grossly unfair to punish him for being upright and exposing the scams”.

A 1991-batch IAS officer, Khemka, who claims that it is his 43rd transfer in 20 years, significantly ordered the cancellation of mutation of 3.5 acre plot of land in Manesar- Shikohpur that Vadra had sold to DLF for Rs 58 crores yesterday, four days after the transfer.

Late last week, pursuing a probe he had already initiated, Khemka issued a letter formally ordering an inquiry into the “alleged undervaluation of some properties registered by Shri Robert Vadra or his companies as vendor or vendee.” The letter also took note of allegations by activist Arvind Kejriwal against Vadra.

As the issue hotted up and the Haryana government came under attack over its action, chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said transfer is a prerogative of the government.

If his assertions made with regards to the land deals are found to be true, action will be taken against anyone found guilty, he said.

In his letter to P K Chaudhery, Khemka said it seemed to be a “deliberate and malafide” action to punish him due to “some vested elements” in the political-bureaucratic hierarchy “affected by the exposure of the scam in consolidation of land under the garb of exercise of powers”.
Recession-hit US architecture firms eye India

Kolkata: Hit by the meltdown, American architecture companies are seeking greener pastures and are keen to explore business avenues in India’s expanding infrastructure sector.

An American trade mission comprising 20 architectural firms Wednesday began its India visit starting with Kolkata. The delegation is slated to go to Bangalore and Chennai also.

“Like other countries, the US too has been hit by recession and, like most other services, architecture too has been adversely affected. With a view to exploring new avenues and to tap the rapidly expanding Indian market, the mission is here,” said US Consul General Dean Thompson.

The trade mission was organised by the International Trade Administration and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in association with the Bharat Chamber of Commerce.

“In cities like Kolkata and Bangalore there is still a lot of scope for infrastructural development. That is why the mission has chosen these cities. We are hopeful of forging long-term partnerships with our Indian counterparts,” said AIA first vice president Mickey Jacob.

“India seeks to invest one trillion dollars in its infrastructure in the next five years and the country requires significant outside expertise to meet its goals. We hope through collaborations we can provide the required expertise,” added Jacob.