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UP cop shunted after riot leave

Lucknow, Sept. 26: The Uttar Pradesh government today transferred a top police officer who had left riot-hit Muzaffarnagar and gone on four days’ pilgrimage last week, apparently in protest at alleged political interference.

Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), however, alleged that additional director-general (law and order) Arun Kumar had actually been sent on leave last week.

Sources said Kumar had antagonised his political bosses by complaining to juniors about interference by a high-profile minister close to Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Kumar had been camping in Muzaffarnagar since the violence flared on September 7 but went on leave from September 19, switching off his mobile phone.

As speculation swirled, Kumar called a few journalists in Lucknow on September 19 evening to say he was going on pilgrimage to Shirdi in Maharashtra.

He returned on September 23 but has now been recalled to the police headquarters in Lucknow without charge, an official said.

Sources said the state government believed the riots could have been avoided had Kumar’s police properly handled the incident of sexual harassment on August 27 that lit the first spark.

They added that Akhilesh was also unhappy at Kumar leaving his post last week at a time Muzaffarnagar was grappling with post-violence tension.