The Commissioner of Police of Kolkata is among four top IPS officers in Bengal who have been replaced by the Election Commission ahead of general election. The four officers cannot be deployed for any election related duties, the poll panel said.
Anuj Sharma, Kolkata Police Commissioner, was replaced by Dr Rajesh Kumar, Additional Director General, Pollution Control Board. He was earlier ADG CID.
Anuj Sharma was ADG Law & Order, West Bengal Police, when he was appointed Kolkata Police Commissioner on February 19. The post fell vacant after the removal of Rajeev Kumar, the officer whose residence the CBI allegedly tried to gatecrash in February and prompted chief minister Mamata Banerjee to sit on dharna.
In fact, Mr Sharma and Gyanwant Singh, Bidhan Nagar Commissioner, were at the site of Mamata Banerjee's dharna in central Kolkata on the evening of February 3.
Their presence had snowballed into a major row, with BJP questioning how serving police officers could sit on dharna with the chief minister. Mamata Banerjee said they were not on the dharna manch but only providing her security while the manch or stage was being built.
Natarajan Ramesh Babu, ADG and IGP, Operations, has replaced Gyanwant Singh.
"May be there were objections from political parties against some police officers. Some of them were at Mamata Banerjee's dharna manch and another went to the airport and argued with Customs officials over so called harassment of the wife Mrs Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee," said Dilip Ghosh, state BJP chief.
Avannu Ravindranath DC (Airport Division), Bidhan Nagar, has been posted as the Superintendent of Police, Birbhum, replacing Shyam Singh.
Birbhum has seen several clashes between BJP and Trinamool in the last few years, peaking ahead of the panchayat elections last year. Trinamool district chief, Anubrata Mondal, is infamous for making outrageous comments, including urging party workers to "bomb the police" if they show sympathy to Trinamool opponents.
Srihari Pandey, DC, KAP, 3rd Battalion, is now Superintendent of Police, Diamond Harbour. He replaces S Selva Murugan. The Trinamool candidate in the Diamond Harbour constituency is Abhishek Banerjee, Mamata Banerjee's nephew.
The Election Commission order came after reviewing the poll preparedness of the state.
"The direction of the Commission be implemented with immediate effect and a compliance report in respect of joining of above officers be sent within 24 hours," the Election Commission said.
West Bengal will vote in all seven phases when elections begin next Thursday. Votes will be counted on May 23.
Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya said, "We had complained against the SPs of Raiganj and Malda. Let us see what action the poll panel takes against them."
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