New Delhi: The Congress continued to remain in denial even as the Haryana government was forced to order a probe into the Robert Vadra-DLF Manesar deal. This came even as CNN-IBN accessed more evidence of Robert Vadra's land deals in Haryana. The Congress continued to stress that there was no solid evidence against Vadra. Speaking to CNN-IBN, Congress spokesperson Manish tewari said, "You had a press conference where allegations were made, prima facie they were found to be untrue. A second set of allegations were made by an officer who has an axe to grind or a certain angst against a transfer order and when the details emerged, facts were found to be totally contradictory to what he's been saying since Tuesday morning. No evidence has emerged in the public space except for baseless innuendo about quid pro quo."
Even as the Opposition attacked the Congress alleging a 'witch hunt' in trasnfering Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka for probing the Vadra-DLF deal, the Congress refuted all claims. "The allegations are baseless. There is no witch hunt. We do not question the integrity of the officer. It is prerogative of the government to transfer any bureaucrat. The Chief Secretary will be able to brief about the reasons behind the transfer", party General Secretary BK Hari Prasad said.
Criticising Khemka's transfer, BJP said Congress is suffering from an "Emergency mindset" and demanded that an impartial inquiry be held into the matter. "Congress is in complete shambles and in doldrums. It is trying to save Robert Vadra. We want an honest and impartial probe into the charges. An honest officer with integrity who has decided to take suo moto action has been transferred. That too at 10 pm," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
Stepping up the heat, activist Arvind Kejriwal said, "Haryana Chief Minister ought to answer to the country why has Khemka been transferred. What is transfer policy for IAS officers in Haryana? Under that policy, can officer be transferred merely because he was investigating Vadra?"
The Haryana government has been forced to order a probe into the Vadra-DLF Manesar land deal worth Rs 58 crore. This came after Ashok Khemka cancelled the land mutation saying it violated the state's Consolidation Act. But the Hooda government also questioned Khemka's decison to scrap mutation in the Vadra-DLF deal without giving the affected parties a chance to give their version.
Khemka said that he suspected that the Punjab and Haryana High Court order was used as a pretext to transfer him out. Speaking exclusively to IBN-18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Khemka said, "I was conducting inquiry since October 8 after reading media reports. I questioned the officer of the revenue department who was not willing to give me data for inquiry. Subsequently I was transferred."
Asserting that he was not an "escapist", the IAS officer said that his duty was to correct the legality and he did that. He said, "I suspect I was shifted after I ordered probe into Vadra-DLF land deal."
Speaking to CNN-IBN, the IAS officer said he suspected he was transferred for initiating probe into Vadra-DLF land deals.
"If the Haryana government knew I would succumb to pressure, they would not have transferred me...I chose to act even though it involved a super VVIP," said Khemka, adding "I would continue my fight no matter how much I am hounded".
When asked if he had received death threats over the issue, Khemka chose to give a direct answer but mentioned that he feared for his family. He, however, added, "I will remain in public service till I am retired…some of the vested interests were hurt by my act."
However, Khemka's friend and lawyer Anupam Gupta confirmed about the threat to the IAS officer's life. When asked about the threats, Gupta said, "Yes Khemka has personally told me that he has received threatening phone calls in the night...we don't know who are these callers and who is behind all this."
Meanwhile, more evidence surfaced of Robert Vadra's land deals in Haryana, this time from Palwal. Farmers in the area say they were harassed by his agents and forced to sell land below market rates.