Why DGDE Opposes Unconventional Officials Like Ray: A Closer Look

Saurav Ray IDES
Share this News:

Mubarak Ansari

Pune, 14th February 2024: Courage comes with a cost. And it often goes against you.

But what is satisfying and fascinating for the individual is to achieve what he aims for.

Often, some people forget that this trait, vice, and character exists in them. They conveniently ignore it to become a part of a ‘herd’ to coax top bosses.

But remember, one earns respect by ‘taking the hard right over the easy wrong’. That is what Saurav Ray has done in his service.

He has always chosen ‘hard right’ in the interest of the service. For him, becoming a part of the ‘herd’, would have been much easier for multiple objectives.

He would have got some ‘creamy ‘ postings to get ‘additional perks’ in the form of several things like his peers and counterparts in the service. But he did not succumb to this ‘lure’ of the service.


Because he understood his role and responsibilities much better than his predecessors have done over the years.

What have they done? They chose ‘easy wrong’.

While some work for perks, few prefer to follow the order of hierarchy irrespective of consequences. Unfortunately, this breed of officials is higher in number and size in the defence estates department.

Builder lobbies and politicians have understood this ‘pulse ‘, a typical ‘mindset’ and ‘operation method’ of the officials of the Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES) over the last two decades. As a result, they could formulate their strategy and establish a ‘modus operandi’ to usurp prime defence properties. And they have been doing it successfully in the Pune Camp for the last two decades.

However, when Mr Roy started operating completely in a different outlook and approach, this lobby, including some officials who are part of it, got baffled. They could not understand how to prevent him from investigating these cases.

Why Mr. Ray’s transfer is the ‘need of the hour’ for some defence estates officials:

Subsequent investigations of the old grant properties and Old Grant Bungalows have revealed that senior defence estate officials have been involved in many illegal transfers of defence lands.

They have served in different capacities in Pune and Khadki in the last two decades and have taken certain decisions even against the Local Military Authority (LMA) and even against the Southern Army Commanders (whose word is supposed to be the final decision in the cantonment matter).

“These officials have smartly ignored the recommendations made by the LMA and Army Commanders in several cases and supported builders. They could do this because they are the ultimate record-keepers of the defence land. The army officers dealing with the land matters in the command and station headquarters serve only for two years. Out of two years, he goes on leave, temporary duty (TD), attends training camps, serves other duties, and sometimes handles additional responsibilities of the parent units. So, it is challenging for the officer to comprehend intricate and complicated cases of defence properties. Often they either pass on responsibilities to defence estates officials or the cantonment boards or sit on the files. Interestingly, both serve in the favour of land sharks,” said a senior army officer.

“So who would plug this gap? No defence estate official has shown this proactive approach in the past. But Mr Ray did it. He explained several complicated cases of the defence properties with documentary evidence. It established the link with some senior defence estate officials now serving in the top positions in the department. They have made several wrong decisions against the service and government rules and regulations in multiple cases. And they are aware of it. Hence they are after Mr Ray. They projected the case to the army authorities and the officials of the defence estates that Mr Ray was acting against the IDES cadre. This they are doing to save their service and ignominy to some extent. Hence, they transferred him.” the officer added.

Fear of opening of floodgates to land scam:

Mr Ray’s consistent action against the violators and publicity in the media has grabbed the attention of the army, activists, and citizens in Pune Camp in the past few weeks.

This has made a section of defence estates officials uncomfortable. Not for they are not getting into the limelight but for fear of the possible investigation by an independent agency like CBI and ED in some cases. Because they are pretty aware these cases are perfect ‘fodder’ for their agencies, said the sources.

“If independent agency investigates these cases, many defence estates officials, builders, and politicians will face the music. And it is not at all difficult for any agency to establish this network. Because, unlike other cases, everything is on the record. Investigators only have to access these land records and verify with the rules. It is no less than a ‘cakewalk’ for them to ascertain the link. And all the officials who served in Pune and Khadki in those years would come under the agency’s radar. They would have to explain each sanction they had given while serving at the helm of affairs in the respective department. It could be as a defence estates officer of the Pune circle, chief executive officer of the cantonment board, and the principal director of the defence estates of the Southern Command because no final decision is made without the sanction of the Principal Director. So their roles and intentions would certainly come under the radar,” said the officer.

“Moreover, the agency would not find difficulties establishing the official’s proximity with builders and politicians. Some builders have grabbed multiple prime defence properties worth thousands of crores. One builder has clutched eight OGBs, including land plots, in the vicinity of the Command headquarters. In these cases, several defence estate officials have supported the builder. Some of them smartly ignored the matters for the best of their reasons. All these cases would automatically come under if the agency launches the investigation. In this, Mr Ray would have played a major role because he accessed all documents of these properties. These documents the agency or army would not get easily for their investigation. And therefore, it was need of the hour for many defence estates officials to transfer Mr Ray at the earliest,” said the officer.

Moreover, the officials fear that Mr Ray will open similar cases in other cantonments in the Southern Command (are 19 cantonments in the command).

The OGBs and old grant sites are now prime land plots in various cities within the command’s limit.

“How can we forget the biggest defence land scam, Adarsh in Mumbai? Mr Ray, in that case also, had played a pivotal role in the investigation. Some say he was the architect of that case. Even the court had appreciated his work on the record. No official in the defence estate has ever faced a tough situation like Adarsh in their service. But Mr Ray, despite being under huge pressure, could withstand that precarious, delicate, and sensitive situation under the political pressure of the ruling government in the state and centre. And he stood by his stand and displayed unwavering courage and commitment to the duty. Hence, his credibility in the service is of another level,” said the official.

Why does Southern Command support Mr Ray?

Neither DGDE nor defence estates officials want Ray in Pune. They know he would open dubious sales of several cases if he completes his three-year tenure in Pune.

Command’s leadership needs to understand one crucial factor that they would not find a suitable official like Mr Ray in any other defence official in the future.

And for the command, it is not only a matter of Pune and Khadki cantonment boards but of 19 cantonments and military stations covering cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Nashik and so on.

“The command needs to act swiftly for their gain. If they do not investigate certain cases and act against the violators in time now, they will lose their prime properties in these cities in the coming years. It would be a huge loss for them as they would have to establish their units outside these cities in the future. That would go against their future expansion plans,” said the official.

With the excision of the cantonments, the command leadership needs to be more vigilant and visionary while handling defence land matters. They should study ground intelligence before agreeing to the cantonment and defence estates officials’ decisions, said the official.

“Ground intelligence reports from the Military Intelligence (MI) units and supporting documents of estates would help the command to secure their land zones in these cities safely. In this endeavour, Mr Ray would play a major role in the command. Also, the command should form a special team/squad at the earliest to deal with these matters on a ‘mission mode’. Then the army authorities would be able to safeguard their estates. And Mr Ray’s support they need to achieve this objective,” added the official.

Pune: Defence Estates Director Ray Transferred In ‘Public Interest’ For Exposing Multi-Crore Bungalow Sale Scam