Aslam Khan IPS:
Victim of Honesty
By Zubair Ahmed
In the past six years, the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) was misused and abused to mint money and settle scores by a set of officials, and its a fact every Islander acknowledges. However, the picture changed with the Lieutenant Governor setting a goal of zero-tolerance towards corrupt practises. The change in guard in the ACU and structural changes were monumental in setting a new standard in dealing with corruption.
Mrs Aslam Khan, SP, ACU in a short span proved her mettle by trapping many corrupt government servants. Series of successful operations had started to create a sense of fear, when she was moved out and made Principal,
From the outset, the transfer of SP Aslam Khan might look like any other administrative decision, but it is a failure of collective morality of the Administration.
She has become the victim of calumny and many unsubstantiated charges are being floated by a section, and unfortunately, the rumours emanating from the Chief Secretary's chamber is what is now discussed on the streets.
In fact, she was shunted out of the department, as she had ruffled many feathers, and the interests of many had been compromised.
It all started with the arrest of four officials of Port Blair Municipal Council by the Anti Corruption Department, of A&N Police based on a complaint of corruption received. The arrest was made on 9th Oct. 2013 at evening hours under section 13(1)d/13(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 read with Sec. 420/120B of IPC. All of them were later released on bail.
Prior to the arrest, when the Anti-corruption Unit moved the file, what conspired between the Secretary, Vigilance, Municipal Secretary and the Chief Secretary is a mystery. However, when SP Aslam Khan met the Chief Secretary, there was clear instruction not to proceed in the case. She was asked to drop the charges. According to reliable sources present in the CS's chamber, when she demanded a written note from the CS, he turned wild and instructed Public Prosecutor, S K Mondal not to contest the bail. The Public Prosecutor did not appear, and sent his Assistant. All four of them were released on bail.
What were the circumstances, where a Chief Secretary had to intervene to block the arrest of junior level employees of PBMC, indulged in corrupt practices? Does the buck stop at the four foot soldiers or it has ramifications beyond that ? Is the Municipal Secretary also being protected?
The Chief Secretary enjoys the clout of both the Politicians as well as the Administrator, and in this specific case, it is learnt that he obliged his political friends and did not deter from putting immense pressure on Aslam Khan to submit, which he didn't budge. However, Court granted the accused bail, as CS had the last say.
The Chief Secretary is the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO), with 40 departments under him. In many cases, trying to protect his own officers, he sits on the files. In another instant, a case on an Assistant Engineer in APWD in Rangat, is still pending. The AE, a native of Rangat also runs proxy business units and indulges in various corrupt practices, which were substantiated by Anti-Corruption Unit. Because of the proximity of the AE to the Chief Engineer (APWD), who in turn, as of now is in the good books of the CS, there is no movement in the case.
Above all, the Chief Secretary has started a slander campaign against Mrs Aslam Khan, SP. Wild allegations that she has indulged in corrupt practices are all over the place. The latest rumour is that she was hand in glove with a non-governmental organization, working against corruption, and has indulged in corrupt practices. And it is being spread through various channels, which are yet to be substantiated. When asked for a list of allegations, the authorities said that it cannot be shared with anybody.
The way the whole issue was dealt smelt of corruption and favouritism in higher places, and the fallout was the transfer of a competent officer, who was performing well. The justification that the replacement officer, Shibesh Singh, IPS is highly qualified and competent is not the answer to the question why an honest and competent officer like Mrs Aslam Khan IPS is being replaced.