Mohd Mustafa replaces Harpreet Singh Sidhu as Punjab anti-drugs STF chief
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Mohd Mustafa replaces Harpreet Singh Sidhu as Punjab anti-drugs STF chief

Sidhu’s removal from the post was imminent as he had fell out of favour with the chief minister’s office.

punjab Updated: Sep 09, 2018 09:59 IST
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab,punjab police,punjab news
Mohd Mustafa and Harpreet Singh Sidhu (HT File)

The Punjab government on Saturday removed additional director general of police (ADGP) Harpreet Singh Sidhu as head of the special task force (STF) against drugs.

DGP (human rights) Mohd Mustafa, husband of higher education minister Razia Sultana will replace Sidhu, who has been posted as special principal secretary at chief minister’s office (CMO) –an administrative post generally handled by a senior IAS officer and involving no-police related work. Mustafa will continue to hold the charge of DGP human rights.

Sidhu’s removal from the post was imminent as he had fell out of favour with the chief minister’s office. There were also reports of a tussle between Sidhu and DGP Suresh Arora which also became a cause of embarrassment for the government.

Once a blue-eyed-boy of chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, Sidhu, who was on CRPF deputation in the Naxal-hit Chhattisgarh, was handpicked to head the task force against drugs in March 2017 after the Congress government came to power. As the STF chief, Sidhu was asked to report directly to the CMO. He was also made ADGP (border) — a post especially crafted to give him more wings.

As the internal bickering of Punjab Police came out in open, Sidhu was seen siding with the anti-Arora group, led by another DGP-rank officer Sidharth Chattopadhyaya. Thereafter, the STF chief was divested of ADGP border charge. Sidhu had garnered a lot of praise from a large section of the Congress and opposition parties after the STF arrested over 18,000 drug peddlers in a year.

Balancing act by CM

By bringing Mustafa as the STF chief, the CM seems to have done a balancing act as Mustafa stands opposite to the Arora camp.

A 1984-batch IPS officer, Mustafa was hopeful of getting elevated as DGP after the Congress took over the reins. His hopes, however, were dashed as Amarinder decided to continue with Arora, who was appointed as the state police chief by the SAD-BJP government.

As Arora’s retirement date (Sept 30) is nearing, Mustafa has strongly pleaded his claim for the DGP’s post with the CM , citing the “rough treatment meted out to him in the SAD-BJP government because of his allegiance to the Congress”. Government functionaries revealed that Mustafa was on Saturday called by CM at his official residence, where the latter convinced him to hold the STF charge.

The development has also almost confirmed that Arora is all set to get an extension, at least for three months.

First Published: Sep 09, 2018 09:56 IST