Hindu groups on Tuesday welcomed a Tamil Nadu government directive that barred a bureaucrat from preaching Christianity in the state because such activities were likely to cause communal disharmony and disturb public order.
Chief secretary of Tamil Nadu K Gnanadesikan wrote to IAS officer C Umashankar last week and said his "preaching and propagating activities" scheduled between January 24 and 26 in Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari districts of the state was unbecoming of a member of the service.
He was also warned of appropriate action under the All India Services (conduct) Rules, and was chided for his action on January 16 in Kanyakumari that allegedly disturbed public order and resulted in two police cases.
Umashankar cancelled his tour but said he would move court against the directive that he said impinged on his fundamental rights. The officer said he was a Hindu officially but a Christian by faith.
Welcoming the government order, Hindu Munnani (Hindu front) founder Rama Gopalan said his organisation had often condemned Umashankar for preaching and propagating a particular denomination of Christianity. The officer's action was in contravention of service rules and the Hindu Munnani had filed a complaint against him, Gopalan said.
This isn't Umashankar's first run-in with the state government. In 2010, he was suspended after doubts were raised about the genuineness of his Dalit certificate. The suspension was revoked later.
He also unearthed several scams in Tamil Nadu, including the cremation shed scam case in the 1991-96 AIADMK government that resulted in the conviction of then minister C Selvaganapathy. During the DMK regime of 2006-11, Umashankar was appointed head of Arasu Cable TV after a tiff between then chief minister M Karunanidhi and his grandnephews, the Maran brothers.