Indian Revenue Services (IRS) officer B Balamurugan was suspended on January 29. According to an official notice sent to Balamurugan, disciplinary proceedings have also been initiated against him. While the notice does not mention any reason for Balamurgan’s suspension, the move comes two days before he is set to formally retire. Balamurugan had been in the news a few weeks ago for criticising Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a letter to President Droupadi Murmu and demanding her sacking.
Balamurugan had written to President Droupadi Murumu accusing the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of becoming an extended arm of the BJP. The officer’s letter came after the ED sent a summons to two Dalit farmers in Tamil Nadu who were locked in a legal tussle with a local BJP leader.
Balamurugan, who was holding the post of Deputy Commissioner of Goods and Service Tax (GST) in Chennai, had said that Nirmala had successfully converted the ED into a BJP policy enforcement directorate. In this regard, he had demanded the dismissal of the Union Finance Minister, whom he called “unfit to be the Finance Minister of India”.
In July 2023, two Dalit farmers, Kannaiyan and Krishnan, both in their 70s and living in Attur of Salem district, received summons from the ED. While it remains unclear as to why the ED summoned the brothers, who own 6.5 acres of agricultural land in their village, the reference to them as ‘Hindu Pallars’ triggered outrage. It was also alleged that the ED is targeting the farmers – who subsist on a Rs 1,000 monthly pension – since they are engaged in a land dispute case against Gunashekar, BJP’s Salem East district secretary, whom the farmers have accused of illegally trying to grab their land. The ED had said on January 4, that they would close the case against the farmers, which it is yet to do. It may be noted that Balamurgan’s wife Dalit Pravina is the lawyer representing the two farmers.
In his letter to the President regarding this matter, Balmurugan had also said, “The incident shows how the Enforcement Directorate has become an extended arm of the BJP. In fact, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman, after taking over the charge, has successfully converted the Enforcement Directorate into BJP Policy Enforcement Directorate.”