With the Centre considering taking punitive action against five senior West Bengal police officers for attending her recent sit-in, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said she would bestow on them the highest state award if they were stripped of their medals.
The chief minister’s assertion came amid continued face-off between the Centre and the state after a CBI team made a failed attempt to question Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam in which lakhs of investors were duped of their hard earned money with the promise of abnormally high returns.
An intense drama was witnessed on Sunday afternoon when a team of 40-odd CBI officers reached Kumar’s residence, and a team of Kolkata Police officers rushed there to inquire if they had the documents required to question the CP.
Some CBI men were then bundled into police jeeps and taken to the police station.
After the CBI-police face-off, Mamata began a sit-in in front of the Metro Cinema to protest “insults” faced at the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. She accused both the BJP leaders of organising a “coup” on West Bengal.
The officers, including DGP Virendra Kumar, were present at Banerjee’s dharna venue on February 4 in plain clothes.
“I will give these five senior officials the highest state honour ‘Bangabibhusan’ if the Centre takes back their medals. Also, I will send a strongly-worded letter, if they send me one,” Banerjee said on the sidelines of Bengal Global Business Summit, strongly refuting the Centre’s charge that the officials had participated in the dharna.
She has been insisting that the officers were present at the protest venue to oversee security.
There were indications on Thursday that the Union Home Ministry could strip these five officers, also including ADG (Security) Vineet Kumar Goyal, ADG (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma, Commissioner of Police (Bidhan Nagar) Gyanwant Singh and Additional Commissioner of Kolkata Police Supratim Sarkar, of their awards for meritorious service and stop their empanelment that would block their promotion.
Similar action was also likely against Rajeev Kumar, a senior home ministry official said.
The home ministry is also believed to have asked the West Bengal government to take action against them for alleged violation of All India Service Rules.
It has already sought action against the Kolkata police chief for alleged indiscipline and violation of service rules.
The Centre is contemplating issuing an advisory to all states to ensure that officers of uniformed forces adhere to service conduct rules and maintain decorum, official sources said.
Around 48 hours after she launched a sit-in, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ended her ‘Save Democracy’ dharna after the Supreme Court order to not arrest the Kolkata Police chief while directing him to join the CBI probe at a neutral place, in Meghalaya’s Shillong.
Kumar, meanwhile, arrived Shillong on Friday where he will be questioned by the CBI in connection with the Saradha scam following an order by the Supreme Court.
Earlier on Thursday, he was summoned by the CBI in the case.
(With PTI inputs)