A day after he was transferred by the Haryana government and told to await a posting, Pradeep Kasni, commissioner of Gurgaon division, alleged he was shunted out because he was on the verge of uncovering land scandals. The IAS officer alleged that “a lobby, which is active with the land mafia in Gurgaon and other parts of NCR, wanted me out”.
The state government said the shifting of Kasni was a “routine transfer” but official sources acknowledged it had to do with the government being forced to abandon plans for acquisition of over 3,600 acres of land for the Manesar-Bawal multi-modal logistics hub in the NCR.
An auto zone, a commercial zone and a container yard were to be part of the hub but farmers launched an agitation for higher compensation and the government, finding fault with Kasni’s assurance on the compensation amount, dropped the Bawal plan.
Kasni told The Indian Express: “Legally, I had nothing to do with land acquisition. I joined in Gurgaon barely a month ago. If I had recommended a certain compensation amount, the government had all the powers to overrule it. The decision to release land from the land acquisition process for the Bawal logistics hub was taken by the Cabinet in public interest. Now, if the government claims it (transfer) was because of an erroneous recommendation, I believe it is an attempt to distract from the actual reason for my transfer. A lobby, which is active with the land mafia in Gurgaon and other parts of NCR, wanted me out.”
On December 22, Kasni passed an order cancelling mutation of seven land transactions in Harsaru tehsil of Gurgaon district.
“A preliminary investigation revealed that some of the seven beneficiaries of government land had died or were bogus. But it is the job of the police to find out all such things. As a revenue officer, I did what I could have done,” Kasni said.
In the same order, he detailed the “nexus” between officers of the revenue department and a “land mafia”. He claimed that around eight acres of prime government land was illegally transferred to “private people” in Gurgaon. The order speaks of officials in “active manouevres… functioning as a gang and criminal conspiracy”.
“Mutation No. 3927, 3928, 3929, 3930, 3931, 3932 dated 23.11.2011 and 3956 dated 30.11.2011 have indeed been wrongly sanctioned… vide the illegal and malafide action of entering and sanctioning the mutations, the culprits sought to fraudulently pass on the title, validly belonging to the state government, of about eight acres of prime and highly valuable land located in the revenue estate of Harsaru to some private individuals/firm/company,” Kasni stated in his report, mentioning the names of some officers.
”It is not a mere case of administrative or professional misdemeanor but of a deeper and more malignant conspiratorial gang-up in the office of the collector in favour of the land mafia and to thwart the public interest for private gains and may be to subserve one’s own narrow selfish interests for which these officials hanker after and manipulate their postings in such ‘lucrative’ posts,”, Kasni wrote, recommending “legal as well as administrative action” against the “officials indicted”.
“Their (indicted officials) reasoning that they worked under the verbal command of their seniors for the malfeasance they are deep into, is found to be too contorted to be acceptable. Yet the loss to the government, including the loss of face or legitimacy or reputation on account of the active role they have played out in the instant case, is incalculable and unpardonable,” Kasni stated in his report.