West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday termed the Election Commission (EC)’s decision to transfer four West Bengal IPS officers, including the Kolkata Police Commissioner, and bar them from poll duty as “highly arbitrary, motivated and biased towards BJP”.
Banerjee said the flow of events raise “strong doubts” over the Commission’s functioning to conduct free and fair polls in the state.
“The decision of the Commission is highly arbitrary, motivated and biased. We have every reason to believe that the decision of the Commission is at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre, i.e. the BJP,” Banerjee said in a letter to the EC.
“This flow of events gives rise to strong doubts whether the Commission is functioning as per its constitutional mandate of conducting free and fair elections or working in a manner to appease the ruling BJP at the Centre,” she said.
The apex poll body on Friday removed Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma, his counterpart in the Bidhannagar Commissionerate Gyanwant Singh and two Superintendents of Police — Shyam Singh of Birbhum and P.S. Selvamurugan of Diamond Harbour police district.
In a statement, Chief Secretary Malay De said Rajesh Kumar, who was till now ADG and IGP – Pollution Control Board, would take over as the new city Police Commissioner, while Natarajan Ramesh Babu, appointed as ADG and IGP – Operations, will take over as Bidhannagar Police Commissioner.
Banerjee pointed out that certain Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders are making comments in the press that senior officers of the state in the police administration would soon be replaced by the EC, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi also made a statement in a TV show on Friday that “law and order situation is bad in Bengal”, before the order of the Commission was received.
Noting that law and order is a state subject, she further alleged that the general practice of consulting the state government or seeking a panel of names of officers was not followed by EC before issuing the order.
She urged the Commission to review its decision and start an inquiry to find out under whose guidance, the decision of transferring the officers have been taken.
“Therefore, urge the Commission to review its decision and would also request the Commission to cause an inquiry as to how and under whose guidance, the decision of transfer of the officers has been taken,” she said.
Putting forward her argument in support of the serving officers, the Chief Minister said the two Commissioners of Police in Kolkata and Bidhannagar have been playing a key role in seizure of illegal currency, gold, liquor and other prohibited items, and enforcing law and order in strict manner resulting in large number of arrests.
She stated that the two officers named by EC as Commissioners of these two regions lack adequate knowledge of the area and the people, and warned that putting them in charge of these crucial areas can “significantly jeopardise” the management of these areas.