The Election Commission transferred Malda Superintendent of Police Arnab Ghosh today, three days before the district votes in the Lok Sabha elections. The action was taken in the wake of the West Bengal BJP leadership filing several complaints against the police officer.
Mr Ghosh, who was posted in Bidhannagar when Rajeev Kumar was still the Kolkata Police Commissioner, has been linked to the alleged cover-up of the Sharda Chit Fund Scam in the state. He is being replaced by West Bengal IPS officer Ajay Prasad, who will take over by 10 am on Sunday.
The election body also warned the state government against putting Mr Ghosh on poll duty.
In another development, Special Election Observer Ajay V Nayak compared the polling situation in West Bengal to that of Bihar from nearly 10-15 years ago - claiming that its people "do not have faith in the state police anymore". "If the people of Bihar could change the situation, I don't see why the people of Bengal can't," he said.
Mr Nayak was appointed as the Special Election Observer in the state earlier this week, after the state BJP complained against the West Bengal Chief Election Commissioner.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written to the Election Commission earlier this month, protesting against the transfer of four senior police officers. "I strongly feel that the Election Commission plays a neutral role to save democracy in India. But it is very unfortunate that I have to write this letter today to raise a strong protest against the transfer order dated April 5, 2019, issued by the Election Commission by way of removing four senior officers from their existing positions," she wrote, describing the move as "highly arbitrary, motivated and biased".
The Election Commission dismissed the allegations, saying that transferring officials during the polls was well within its rights.
Malda will vote in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections, on April 23.
(With inputs from PTI)