Electronic media flashed the news after he chaired a monthly review meeting

The suspension order of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was what Chairman and Managing Director of BEML, V.R.S. Natarajan, least expected on Monday morning.

He had chaired a monthly review meeting of the public sector undertaking's marketing division in which all the divisional heads and directors were present. Mr. Natarajan was surprised and shaken after the electronic media flashed the news of his suspension around noon, sources in BEML, who were with him when the news reached them, said.

According to the sources, soon after watching the news on television, Mr. Natarajan spoke to an official in the MoD, who confirmed the news to him. “He left within 10 minutes, but was shaken and upset with the development,” the sources said adding that he was at BEML Soudha, corporate head office at Sampangiram Nagar here, since 8 a.m. when the review meeting commenced.

Colleagues surprised as well

While most senior officials and employees of BEML expected Mr. Natarajan being asked to go on leave after the CBI launched investigations, the sources said Monday's development came as a surprise to them too. Despite the CBI inquiry in the recent weeks, the sources said, he was attending to work regularly.

Soon after the news of his suspension came, some people burst crackers in front of BEML Soudha as well the Rail and Metro division complex in New Thippasandra.

Order yet to reach

Though the MoD order came in the morning, the sources said they were yet to receive any official communication in this regard.

“So far, the order has not been officially communicated to us. We have been told that it would be hand delivered on Tuesday,” a top source in the PSU said. Even enquiries in the Human Resource Department confirmed the same.

The sources said Mr. Dwarakanath, who is also a leading contender for the CMD's position (Mr. Natarajan is set to retire in September 2012), has not taken charge since official orders are yet to come.

Move hailed

Welcoming the suspension, general secretary of the Karnataka unit of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions S. Prasanna Kumar, said: “Though action had come late, it is not enough, as a thorough investigation into the other misdeeds during his tenure have to be probed. He is still capable of manipulating things.” With the suspension, workers were feeling relieved, he added.

A former employee of BEML and a shareholder, K.S. Periyaswamy, who has been seeking action against Mr. Natarajan since 2002, expressed his happiness over the development. “A free and fair inquiry cannot be expected since many of his [Mr. Natarajan] aides are still in the Prime Minister's Office and office,” he added.

According to PTI, when his reaction was sought, Mr. Natarajan said he respected the government's decision, and that he would come out clean.