‘Shame on us’: Bengal guv on cop reading newspaper at Martyrs’ day event
In yet another run-in with the state government, the Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday complained that the law and order situation in the state has completely collapsed after he witnessed a police officer reading a newspaper at Martyrs’ day event.
The incident took place at Gandhi Ghat in Barrackpore where Dhankhar, power minister Sobhondeb Chattopadhyay and senior bureaucrats took part in a government programme to pay homage to Gandhi on his death anniversary.
“How can it happen on a day like this? Shame on us. Senior police officers behaving like this in presence of the constitutional head. He was casually reading a newspaper. Can a police officer behave like this? This is a total breakdown of law and order. Send me a list of all people. I do not open a file to close it,” Dhankhar told Manoj Verma, commissioner of Barrackpore police district, in the presence of guests and the media.
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Dhankhar alleged that Verma was reading a newspaper sitting in the front row when the programme was going on.
Verma refused to comment on the incident.
“This is total collapse of law and order. Total lawlessness. It is worrisome... Where was the Kolkata Police when the governor was stopped at Calcutta University convocation?” said Dhankhar referring to Tuesday’s student agitation because of which he had to return without attending the convocation.
The ruling Trinamool Congress, however, sided with the students who demonstrated against Dhankhar on Tuesday, saying even Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had led protests against a British professor during his student days.
“He is saying all these things because he is looking for publicity. He is acting below the dignity of his position,” said state minister Chattopadhyay.
The Bengal unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reacted by saying that the governor should seek the Centre’s intervention.
“The governor has talked about the lawlessness. He should also inform the Centre and seek its intervention,” said Bengal BJP state unit general secretary Sayantan Basu.
Though they did not want to be quoted, several IPS officers expressed displeasure at the governor’s reaction. “A senior officer cannot be treated like that. This can affect the morale of the police force,” said Pankaj Dutta, a retired IPS officer.