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Boot for Dumka SP over security gaffe

Ranchi, May 12: The Election Commission (EC) has directed Jharkhand to “immediately remove” Dumka SP N.K. Mishra for a security breach in Naxalite-hit Shikaripara block that led to eight persons of a poll party getting killed in a Maoist attack on April 24.

Acting promptly on the EC letter that came on Sunday, the state home department today sent three recommendations to the central poll monitor in Delhi.

The EC will select one in 24 hours.

Home secretary N.N. Pandey, in Delhi today for a meeting, told The Telegraph they had chosen three names.

Asked if “removal” referred to Mishra’s dismissal or suspension, state chief electoral officer P.K. Jajoria said the term was literal.

“We received a letter from the EC which asked the state administration to remove Dumka SP with immediate effect. The state has recommended three IPS officers,” Jajoria said, adding the names were “confidential”.

The EC is directly involved because in Jharkhand, like in the rest of India, the model code of conduct is in force till May 16, the day of counting and results, in matters directly related with elections.

The post of SP is also an “election related post” and government needs to take permission from the EC before posting a new SP in Dumka till May 16.

Barely half an hour after voting ended on April 24, around 4.30pm, Maoists ambushed a two-vehicle convoy carrying poll personnel from Shikaripara booth Nos. 100 and 101, along with EVMs and other election-related items.

That the polling personnel were headed for the Dumka strongroom 40km away on a van and bus, deviating from the protocol of walking to the nearest cluster 4-5km away, was singled out as the reason behind the deaths of five policemen, two poll officials and a bus help.

Though theories of complacence or fatigue of mid-level poll officials did the rounds, SP Mishra and DC Harsh Mangala were held responsible Jharkhand director general of police Rajeev Kumar’s report on the Maoist ambush. Otherwise, Jharkhand hosted the earlier two days of polls on April 10 and 17 peacefully.

Highly placed sources said the EC letter, dated May 11 and signed by the poll panel’s principal secretary R.K. Shrivastava directed immediate removal in the light of DGP Kumar’s report dated April 29.

Kumar categorically pointed out the mistake on the part of Dumka SP who took security lightly. The report mentioned that deputation of central paramilitary forces was not satisfactory in Shikaripara, a known Naxalite-hit area, while basic security protocols were ignored.

DGP Kumar today confirmed receiving a copy of the EC order on Dumka SP’s removal.

On the subject of Dumka DC Harsh Mangala, he said it was for the state government to take a final call.


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