As Modi looks forward to revamp the administrative system, will one of his IAS officers, facing charges of harassment and corruption, get away with the crime?
Former Madhya Pradesh collector currently installed as Personal Secretary (PS) to a Cabinet minister faces charges of harassment and corruption. The officer’s wife, a mother of two, has accused her husband of physical and mental harassment. Her crime: not bearing a son.
In the past one year, 35-year-old Kurangati Swapna Kumar has also approached various public fora exposing her husband’s involvement in several corruption cases, hoping for justice. She hasn’t been heard yet. Instead, the 1999 batch Madhya Pradesh cadre officer was appointed the PS to Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thavarchand Gehlot on 10 June.
In May 2013, Swapna wrote a 16-page letter to former chief secretary of Madhya Pradesh, R Parshuram, where she revealed how her husband Dr E Ramesh Kumar had stashed up black money, demanding an inquiry. In the letter, she alleged that her husband Ramesh was one of the most corrupt IAS officers in MP. He had allegedly invested his black money in real estate, educational institutes and diagnostic centres across Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. She further charged that she was being subjected to mental and physical harassment for the past 11 years because she failed to give birth to a male heir. When the harassment crossed limits, she gathered the courage to expose her husband’s real face to the public.
When TEHELKA approached former chief secretary of MP, R Parshuram (currently state election commissioner of MP), to shed light upon the subject, he expressed inability to comment. “Present chief secretary of Madhya Pradesh Antony Disa might be able to comment. I hold a constitutional post and am not in a position to comment,” he said.
Ramesh, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, was selected in the IAS 1999 batch from Madhya Pradesh cadre. Swapna alleges that he arranged his inter-state deputation and went to Andhra Pradesh in 2013 to get away with his black money. According to Swapna, Ramesh entered into a partnership with A Ramakrishnan and Dr Giridhar among others and invested in real estate in Andhra Pradesh. Ramesh has purchased plot no. 1/46 in Sector II of the posh MVP colony in Vishakhapatnam. Construction of a five-storey bungalow at an estimated cost of Rs 6 crores has already started at the site. The bungalow will be furnished with lifts and other latest technology.
Swapna alleges that while he was posted in MP he took up several flight journeys from Bhopal to other cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Vishakhapatnam. If records are assessed, his air trips will amount to Rs 10 lakh per year on an average. Interestingly, he did not pay for any of these trips.
Ramesh also allegedly took the help of several leading Telugu contractors working in MP to smuggle his black money to AP and he contributed a major chunk of this money to Jagan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party fund.
Swapna writes in the letter, “Initially he used to beat me and when anybody enquired about it, he would start crying in front of them to gather sympathy. The blame would fall on me and he would get away.”
When TEHELKA approached the head of MP IAS Officer’s Association, Aruna Sharma, she refused to comment terming it a personal matter between Ramesh and his wife. Attempts were made to talk to MP chief secretary Antony Disa and Minister for Social Justice Thavarchand Gehlot on this matter. Gehlot did not respond to any of the SMSes sent on his two mobile numbers. The allegations made by Swapna are not of a personal nature. In fact, they are charges of corruption that should be immediately taken notice of. But the MP government officials are refraining from even commenting on it. One possible reason is that Ramesh has been favoured by both the Congress and the BJP. When Congress leader Digvijaya Singh was the chief minister of MP, Ramesh was one of his favourites. When the BJP came to power in the state, Ramesh relied on his contacts to get hold of significant money-yielding posts and was also promoted.
In the initial years of his career, he held the post of assistant collector of Raigarh (now in Chhattisgarh) and Mandsore. He was then appointed sub divisional officer of Narsinhgarh, from where he was sent to Gwalior as the municipal commissioner in 2003. Three years later in 2006, he became collector in Dindori. After six months he was transferred to Khargone. Two years and three months later, he joined the ministry. Ten months later he was collector in Chhatarpur and then Sagar. On November 2012, Ramesh went to Vishakhapatnam on deputation. Recently, he became Gehlot’s personal staff member.
In September 2013, the All India Democratic Women Association (AIDWA), who has provided support to Swapna, staged a protest in front of Ramesh residence demanding justice. AIDWA’s Andhra Pradesh in-charge Samina says, “We went to Bhopal for the protest but no action was taken. Instead, Ramesh filed a complaint of forced entry, theft and defamation against us. We are awaiting a dialogue with him in front of the police so that we can question him about all the allegations Swapna has made against him. If an educated man harasses his wife just because she didn’t bear him a son, it is a matter of shame for the entire society.”
TEHELKA tried to get in touch with Ramesh to get his opinion in the matter, but he could not be contacted.
Swapna did her MTech from Andhra Pradesh and married Ramesh on 29 October 2001. Problems started 11 years ago when Swapna gave birth to their first daughter, E Kamini. After her second daughter was born six years ago, her in-laws allegedly began harassing her as well as brainwashing her husband to marry another woman. Swapna says she thought her husband’s attitude would change for the better for their children’s sake but it only got worse. Finally, Ramesh filed for separation in Vishakhapatnam’s family court on 12 March 2013. Swapna complains that she appealed to several IAS and IPS officers to sort the issue out but no one paid heed. She alleges that Ramesh made her and the girls go without food on several occasions. Now, she is living at her father’s place along with her daughters. AIDWA staged protests in Bhopal in her support in September 2013 but to no avail. When Swapna charged Ramesh with corruption it was said the matter could be handed over to anti-corruption bureau or Lokayog. However, the state government took no action on her complaint and kept mum. The question is: will the newly elected Central government take cognizance of the matter or will it be buried quietly?