The Telegraph
Friday , June 13 , 2014
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Mamata ‘free-hand’ test for police CM: Act on all complaints

Calcutta, June 12: Mamata Banerjee today instructed senior IPS officers to give importance to all complaints and initiate action, sending a message of raj dharma whose effectiveness will be tested on the ground that is pockmarked by allegations of bias.

The immediate trigger for the instruction appears to be a call-on by a Left delegation earlier this week to draw the attention of the chief minister to alleged attacks by Trinamul supporters.

The Left leaders were later keen to combat the perception that Mamata outsmarted them by lecturing them on how to tackle the BJP and confining herself to disclaimers and a promise to look into the complaints case by case.

Today, sources quoted the chief minister as telling a meeting of district superintendents of police, DIGs and IGs: “I don’t want to receive complaints that the police are not doing their job. You should give importance to all complaints that are lodged. I want you to investigate all complaints and initiate proper steps without seeing who are lodging them.”

An IPS officer who attended today’s meeting at Nabanna said: “The Left had submitted a memorandum to the chief minister on Monday, complaining that 48,500 cadres had been rendered homeless because of Trinamul atrocities. The Left had also alleged that the police were not taking steps to bring them back home. The chief minister did not refer to the Left’s memorandum but made it clear that she did not want to receive such complaints in the future.”

CPM leaders, who had been criticised within and outside the party for meeting Mamata, today appeared to breathe a sigh of relief but wondered whether the content of the chief minister’s message would be reflected on the ground.

“We had given seven days’ time to act on our complaints. The initial response of the chief minister is not discouraging at all. Let’s see what the police do,” a Left Front leader said.

At today’s meeting, Mamata is learnt to have told the police not to open fire “unnecessarily”.

Earlier this week, the police had been accused of firing in the air to disperse a mob that had attacked a Malda school.

“I don’t want the police to open fire unnecessarily. I had earlier asked the police to use rubber bullets. Why are those not being used?” the chief minister asked.

Senior officers present at the meeting said Mamata made it clear that the police must not open fire without taking the permission of senior officers. “Senior officers such as the director-general police will decide when to open fire,” the chief minister was quoted as saying. Officials with powers of a magistrate can order police firing in the air.

Mamata also laid stress on developing the intelligence network to nip law-and-order problems in the bud. “For this, you have to develop a proper intelligence network so that policing can be done properly,” she was quoted as saying.