Controversial IAS officer Pooja Khedkar joins duty at Washim; mum on 'VIP demands' row

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Puja Khedkar

Mumbai: Controversial IAS officer Pooja Khedkar on Thursday took charge as an assistant collector at the Washim District Collectorate in Vidarbha region, but declined to comment on the flurry of claims that she used illegal means to clear her civil services exam.

Khedkar (32), who has been accused of allegedly misusing benefits under the physical disabilities category and other backward class (OBC) quota to secure a position in the Indian Administrative Services, was transferred on Monday to Washim from Pune over allegations of bullying and entitled behaviour.

“I am happy to join duty at the Washim District Collectorate and am looking forward to working here,” the probationary officer of the 2022 IAS batch said.

Asked about the allegations against her, Khedkar told reporters, “I am not authorised to speak on the issue. Government rules don’t provide (allow) me to speak on this.” Instead of the swanky Audi car with beacon during her tenure in Pune, Khedkar was on Thursday seen alighting from a more humble Bolero car provided by the district administration.

When Pune police officials went to Khedkar’s bungalow in Pune on Thursday to inspect the Audi car over the violations on beacon and VIP number, they found the bungalow gates locked. A Marathi news channel showed her mother, who was inside the gate, trying to shoo away their camera team from the spot.

Khedkar was shunted to Washim after Pune district collector Suhas Diwase wrote to state additional chief secretary Nitin Gadre requesting him to consider giving a posting to Khedkar in another district to avoid “administrative complications”.

Diwase had sought action against Khedkar for her behaviour, including aggressive treatment of junior staff, illegal occupation of the ante-chamber of additional collector Ajay More, and violations pertaining to sporting a red beacon on the Audi and flashing it during the day, among others.

“Probationer Pooja Khedkar joined the district collector’s office for training purposes as per the order of the Maharashtra State government order. She will be learning with various government departments during her training period,” Washim district collector Buveneswari S said.

A 2023 batch IAS officer of the Maharashtra cadre, Khedkar has also been accused of allegedly misusing benefits under the physical disabilities category and other backward class (OBC) quota to secure a position in the Indian Administrative Services.

An official said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has sought a report on the matter from the Pune collector.

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