Raju Narayanaswamy, IIT, IAS, Kerala’s clean-up officer

One subtle twist in a local district collector's official probe report and T U Kuruvila, Kerala's land scam-tainted public works minister, could probably have hung on in office — not felled the way he was, today. But the Collector was Raju Narayanaswamy. And that is saying a lot in Kerala.

This middle class Iyer from Changanassery, known for taking on political and other heavies like few IAS officers would dare, has remained a pariah for most parties in Kerala's two political halves. The brushes soon came to a point where he took on his father-in-law, a big-time contractor, who wanted to block off a public road to a poor neighbourhood of Scheduled Castes to wall up land for himself.

"I requested my father-in-law not to misuse my position as the local Sub-Collector, but he wouldn't listen. I invoked the Criminal Procedure Code and served orders on him, called in the police and carried out the demolition," recounts the man who once led a raid on the home of one of Kerala's politically influential liquor barons who wouldn't pay up the Rs 11 crore that he owed the government in taxes, and seized his belongings. A minister rang up, asking him to lay off and return the seized stuff, Narayanaswamy refused and was on the political hitlist yet again.

Controversies, and trouble, have always been with Narayanaswamy, the topper of the 1991 IAS batch — he topped the SSC exams as well — and a topper at IIT Chennai's computer science department who turned down an MIT scholarship to enter the Civil Service. Nine years ago, he bulldozed the sides of an important Thrissur road to widen it, hitting businesses with clout who pulled strings to perpetually harass him. Five years ago, he had a run-in with a prominent north Kerala minister in Kasargod. Narayanaswamy refused to recommend sanction as the local District Collector, to turn a hospital that the minister owned into a private medical college, without prescribed infrastructure.

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