Election Commission removes ‘healing touch’ IAS officer from poll duty
Amarjeet Singh | TNN | Apr 22, 2019, 18:27 IST
BHOPAL: The Election Commission on Sunday removed a Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer, C Umashankar, as poll observer in Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh after his “faith-healing” activities.
EC officials told TOI that they had to take action on Umashankar, a 1990-batch officer, because he persisted with his faith healing despite being warned against it.
On Sunday, even after orders for his removal were issued, scores of people gathered at his residence to get his ‘healing touch’. Word had got around that there was a faith healer in town, and people were flocking to him for the past week or so.
Madhya Pradesh chief electoral officer V L Kantha Rao confirmed that he has been removed. “I had sent a report following a complaint from Sidhi district. ECI has removed him.” When TOI contacted Umashankar, he said: “I not authorized to comment.
Please talk to Election Commission.” While being appointed as observers, officials are briefed by EC to stick to election-related work, said sources.
A crusader against corruption and an early advocate of the use of free software in e-governance, Umashankar was born a Hindu Dalit but said he changed his faith to Christianity during the “stressful times he faced during his battles against politicians”. He has often been in the news for his evangelism in Tamil Nadu.
In 2015, the TN government had ordered him to stop propagating his faith, triggering a debate over whether civil servants can propagate a religion publicly.
Sources said Umashankar allegedly started his ‘healing touch’ activities at the Sidhi district hospital after being deputed as poll observer on April 1. Civil surgeon at the hospital, Dr S B Khare, said, “Last week, the IAS officer had come here for treatment.
He was having a headache. Some other patients were also there, and he started giving some blessing or treatment to them. He had done so with only two-three patients when we politely asked him to go and take rest as he was not well. A crowd had started gathering.”
Umashankar is being replaced by Chandrakar Bharti, who is joining on Sunday night.
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