‘At BJP’s behest’: Mamata targets poll panel on transfer of police officers
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday alleged that the four senior police officers transferred by the Election Commission on Friday was at the behest of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders.
While she made the allegations at two election rallies in north Bengal, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said, “This is only the beginning. More officers will be transferred because they are the ones who conduct polls for the Trinamool Congress.”
“If the BJP thinks that by transferring my officers they would make me weak, they are mistaken. Those who have replaced these officers are also my officers. They cannot put me down so easily. The more you try to harm me, the stronger I will become,” Mamata Banerjee said at a rally in Kalchini in north Bengal.
The BJP has submitted a list of 51 administrative and police officers who are performing poll duties in 26 Lok Sabha constituencies to the election commission accusing them of “acting as TMC cadres”. Bengal has 42 Lok Sabha seats.
“This list (of officers who were removed on Friday) is just the beginning. More will be coming shortly. No police officer who is tainted, corrupt and a lackey (of the ruling party) would be allowed to participate in the election process,” said Dilip Ghosh, while conducting campaign in Malda district.
“We want that the EC should deploy central forces in sufficient numbers, and remove all officers, including cops, who played partisan roles in the past so that people get the confidence to come out and vote,” said Congress Rajya Sabha MP and past president of Bengal Pradesh Congress Pradip Bhattacharya.
In a letter to the Bengal chief secretary on Friday, the EC ordered immediate removal of Kolkata top cop Anuj Sharma, Bidhan Nagar police commissioner Gyanwant Singh and the superintendent of police of Birbhum district, Shyam Singh, and P S Selvamurugan, the superintendent of Diamond Harbour police district.
The EC letter also said that compliance report must be filed within 24 hours.
Diamond Harbour happens to be the constituency from where Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee is contesting. Opposition leaders have frequently alleged partisan behaviour against the administration in Birbhum district, where, in May 2018, the ruling party won all 42 zilla parishad seats without a contest.
The poll panel appointed Rajesh Kumar, additional director general, Pollution Control Board, as the Kolkata Police commissioner. Natarajan Ramesh Babu was appointed the commissioner of Bidhan Nagar Police, Avannu Ravindranath the police superintendent of Birbhum district and Shrihari Pandey, the superintendent of Diamond Harbour police district.
Anuj Sharma and Gyanwant Singh were among a few police officers seen by the side of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, when she started a dharna at Esplanade in Kolkata on the night of February 3 to protest the attempt by a team of Central Bureau of Investigation officers to enter the residence of former Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar to question him on his alleged involvement in the Saradha ponzi scam.
Other senior officers seen at the spot, along with the chief minister, included director general of police, Virendra, and former Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar. While Virendra remains DGP, the state government, on February 19, had appointed Kumar the additional director general of police and inspector general of police in the CID.
The Union home ministry took a stern view of the presence of the senior police officers at the chief minister’s sit-in and in the first week of February wrote to the Bengal chief secretary saying the officers had violated provisions of the All India Service Conduct Rules.