This Article is From Feb 27, 2021

Senior Police Officer Replaced In Bengal A Day After Poll Dates Announced

On Friday the Election Commission said elections would be spread over eight phases because over concerns - voiced loudest by the opposition BJP - of electoral violence

Bengal votes for a new Assembly in eight phases starting March 27 (Representational)


A day after it announced Bengal election dates - spread over eight phases starting March 27 - the Election Commission on Saturday replaced the top cop in charge of law and order for the state.

Jawed Shamim, Additional Director-General (Law & Order) of Bengal Police, effectively second only to the Director-General of Police, was shunted to head the fire services department. Jag Mohan, who was Director-General (Fire Services), has replaced Mr Shamim.

"Both are very good officers but we sense a political motive could be behind the move," Trinamool MP Saugata Roy said.

The reshuffle came hours after a team of BJP leaders met the Chief Electoral Officer in Kolkata to allege that Trinamool goons had broken into a godown and vandalised several vehicles assigned by the BJP to travel all over Bengal as part of a campaign launched by party chief JP Nadda

BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta said they had also complained about a set of of police officers in Bengal who were not cooperating with BJP.

"We have asked the Kolkata Police Commissioner for an appointment but he has still not found time to meet us," Mr Dasgupta said.

News of the transfer of Jawed Shamim came soon after.

Mr Shamim was one of 24 officers reshuffled on February 7 by the Mamata Banerjee government.

Some prominent officers transferred at that time included Gyanwant Singh who was ADG (Law and Order) before being replaced by Mr Shamim. Kolkata Police commissioner Anuj Sharma was sent to the CID and replaced by Somen Mitra just two weeks ago.

On February 11, when Left supporters were on a march to the state secretariat, the police had lathi charged them on Kolkata's Chowringhee Road. Mr Shamim had rushed to the spot.

His presence had drawn the notice of governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, who tweeted asking what the ADG (Law and Order) of Bengal Police was doing at the site of an incident in Kolkata Police jurisdiction.

Before moving to Bengal Police, Mr Shamim was Special Commissioner 1, Kolkata Police.

On Friday the Election Commission said Bengal elections would be spread over eight phases because over concerns - voiced loudest by the opposition BJP - of electoral violence. The poll body, however, declined to say why voting had been stretched out, but suggested security played a role in the matter.

"We avoid taking names of political parties. We had an assessment of law and order on several factors. Last time it was seven phases, so eight is not a big deal," outgoing Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee - who pointed out that Tamil Nadu (which has a similar number of seats) would vote in one phase - has questioned the move.

"This is as per BJP requisition. My question to the Election Commission is, tell me why half a district will elections on one day and the other half on another day? Because we are strong in South 24 Parganas, they are holding elections in three phases," Ms Banerjee said.

The results of the Bengal election will be declared on May 2.

West Bengal is geared up for a closely-watched contest between a surging BJP and the state's ruling Trinamool Congress.

The BJP has pulled out all the stops, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and others holding frequent rallies, to unseat Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

While the BJP has gathered remarkable momentum in the run-up, investing money, time, and energy, the Trinamool has strived to dub it an "outsider" party that doesn't understand West Bengal. The poll campaign, till now, has been largely vitriolic.