Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government has directed one of its IAS officers not to go ahead with “preaching and propagating“ his faith as it is against service rules and could create communal disharmony.
C Umashankar, a crusader against corruption and an early advocate of the use of free software in e-governance, was born a Hindu dalit but said he changed his faith to Christianity during the stressful times he faced in his battles against politicians.
His open and public preaching of Christianity has raised the hackles of right-wing groups who are campaigning against him.
In a letter, TN chief secretary K Gnanadesikan told the commissioner for disciplinary proceedings, Umashankar: “It has been brought to the notice of government that you are going to take part in preaching and propagating activities in Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari districts from January 24 to January 26 which are likely to cause communal disharmony and disturbance to public order.
You are directed not to indulge in such activities which are unbecoming of a member of the service, failing which, necessary and appropriate action would be taken under relevant provisions of All India Services (conduct) Rules, 1968 read with the All India Services (Discipline & Appeal ) Rules, 1969.“
The chief secretary also referred to Umashankar’s previous visit to Kanyakumari district on January 16 in which “he indulged in activities which created disturbance to public order resulting in registration of two cases in Pudukadai police station in the district“.
Umashankar said “guided by God,“ he has cancelled seven prayer meetings scheduled in the next few days, but said he will move the high court against the government’s direction.
Gnanadesikan in his letter said civil service conduct rules say that “every member of the service shall at all times maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty and shall do nothing which is unbecoming of a member of the service.“ A senior police official in South Tamil Nadu said since Kanyakumari is vulnerable to communal violence they are worried about Umashankar’s meetings.
Former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami said since the direction of the state has mentioned a previous incident which reportedly created disturbance to public order, the order against Umashankar is justifiable.