The Election Commission of India (EC) on Friday night transferred Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma and Bidhannagar Police Commissioner Gyanwant Singh ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Dr Rajesh Kumar, ADG, Pollution Control Board, was made the new Kolkata top cop, while the poll body named Natarajan Ramesh Babu, ADG and IGP, Operations, as the Bidhannagar police commissioner, an EC letter addressed to the West Bengal chief secretary said.
It also named Avannu Ravindranath, DC (Airport Division) of Bidhannagar, as the new superintendent of police of Birbhum and appointed Srihari Pandey, DC KAP, 3rd Battalion as the superintendent of police of Diamond Harbour.
In a major reshuffle, Additional Director General of West Bengal Police (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma had taken charge as the Kolkata Police Commissioner after replacing Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Rajeev Kumar — who has been at the centre of a controversy over the CBI questioning him in the Saradha chit fund scam case — earlier in February.
The direction of the commission was to be implemented with immediate effect and a compliance report in respect to the joining of the transferred officers was needed to be sent within the next 24 hours.
The EC, in its letter to the chief secretary, also directed that the present incumbent officers being shifted should not be involved by the state government in any election-related duty.
This is the first time that the EC has cracked down on any IPS officer in West Bengal since the announcement of polls last month.
The state opposition parties have been regularly complaining about “the partisan” role of a section of the IPS and administrative officers in the state.
The EC’s decision to shunt out senior officers ahead of the Lok Sabha polls can spark a clash with the Trinamool Congress going by the way Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee went all guns blazing against the panel after it cracked similar whips during the previous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the state.
On both occasions in 2014 and 2016, Banerjee had made the EC’s action a poll issue, describing it as an “insult” to the state and to the officers from Bengal.
West Bengal will vote in all seven phases when elections begin on Pril 11. Votes will be counted on May 23 and the results will be declared on the same day.
(With agency inputs)