BHOPAL: A 1990-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of Tamil Nadu cadre C Umashankar has been removed as a general observer of Lok Sabha elections in Sidhi constituency of Madhya Pradesh over complaints of “faith-healing” activities.
Official sources at the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) office in Bhopal, while confirming to The New Indian Express about Umashankar being removed as a poll observer in Sidhi on Sunday, added that he was continuing with faith-healing activities at the place where he was officially staying despite being warned by election authorities against it.
He has been replaced with Himachal Pradesh cadre IAS officer Chandrakar Bharti.
The CEO-MP VL Kantha Rao also confirmed that Umashankar has been removed as poll observer in Sidhi. “A report was sent to the Election Commission of India (ECI) following a complaint against him, after which the ECI has removed him as general poll observer,” said Rao.
According to official sources in Sidhi (a MP district bordering East UP), the TN cadre IAS officer recently visited the Sidhi district hospital for treatment of headache but started giving blessings as a treatment to other patients at the hospital. On coming to know about it, the hospital authorities requested him to take rest as he wasn’t well himself.
Since then several people were visiting him where he was staying in Sidhi for “faith-healing.”
Controversy isn’t new for Umashankar, as in 2015, he had reportedly sparked controversy over preaching Christianity at public places. Taking strong exception to this, the Tamil Nadu government had then directed him not to hold any public religious meetings. He was warned with legal action if he didn’t stop the evangelist activities.
The Sidhi parliamentary constituency is a hotly contested Lok Sabha seat of Madhya Pradesh, where former leader of opposition in the Vidhan Sabha and senior Congress leader Ajay Singh ‘Rahul’ (son of ex-CM and former union minister Arjun Singh) is pitted against sitting BJP MP Riti Pathak, who is facing opposition from within party ranks.