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Poll axe on police officers
- EC responds to Opposition demands, Left Front squirms

Calcutta, May 2: In Round II of its crackdown on “biased policemen”, the Election Commission today transferred two officers and barred them from all poll work till May 10.

The action against Satya Ranjan Chaki, officer-in-charge of Patashpur police station in East Midnapore, and Mohammed Kalimuddin, a sub-inspector at Calcutta’s Narkeldanga police station, was announced two days after chief election commissioner T.S. Krishnamurthy and his two deputies heard the grievances of political parties in the city.

Chief electoral officer Basudeb Banerjee conveyed the poll panel directive to the government. “I received a message from the chief election commissioner’s office last night concerning the transfer of two police officials. This morning, I forwarded the note to the state government for necessary action,” Banerjee said. “The officers would not be allowed to perform any job relating to (the) May 10 Lok Sabha elections across Bengal.”

This was the second instance of the commission ordering action against police officers in the state in the past month.

Earlier, three IPS officers were shifted following allegations of bias. Deputy inspector-general, Malda range, Gaurav Dutt, North 24-Parganas superintendent of police Basudeb Bag and Nadia superintendent Benoy Chakraborty were transferred following a poll panel probe into charges brought by Opposition parties.

Led by Jyoti Basu, CPM leaders had accused the commission of tarnishing the image of the state administration when it announced that poll personnel for Bengal, who have often been accused of bias, would this time be requisitioned from other states.

Krishnamurthy clarified later that only 1 per cent of the personnel would be brought in from outside.

Sources said Chaki was removed following a complaint from the BJP nominee for the Midnapore seat, Rahul Sinha. A party delegation had lodged a specific complaint against Chaki when it called on Krishnamurthy at Raj Bhavan.

Earlier, Chaki was indicted by the human rights commission following a custodial death in Nadia’s Tehatta during his tenure as the officer-in-charge there.

Kalimuddin was shifted following a complaint from Trinamul Congress candidate for Calcutta Northeast Ajit Panja, who alleged that the officer did little when he was heckled while campaigning in the Narkeldanga area.

The Opposition parties welcomed the commission’s move, describing it as a step in the right direction to “safeguard the democratic rights of people”.

The Left Front did not agree. “It appears that the EC (Election Commission) is functioning in a partisan way. The people of Bengal are losing faith in the EC,” said Sunil Sengupta, a senior RSP leader.

Former state Congress chief Somen Mitra said the transfer of two officers only touches the “tip of the iceberg. Many others will be indicted by the poll panel if our complaints are looked into. We have submitted names of several officers who have been acting at the behest of their CPM bosses”.

Trinamul spokesman Pankaj Banerjee said the commission’s transfer order will ensure free and fair elections.

The chief electoral officer also said the election observer for Mathurapur, Arun Dewan, who had opened fire last week with his security guard’s revolver, has been suspended. The observer for Jangipur, Lal Singh, would be replaced as he had to be admitted to SSKM Hospital with a heart problem.

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