Poll panel removes Malda police chief

Arnab Ghosh is the sixth IPS officer to be shifted this poll season

By TT Bureau in Calcutta/Malda
  • Published 21.04.19, 2:04 AM
  • Updated 21.04.19, 2:04 AM
  • 2 mins read
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The commission asked the Bengal government not to assign Arnab Ghosh, against whom the BJP and the Congress had lodged complaints of bias, any poll-related duty. Telegraph picture

The Election Commission removed Malda police chief Arnab Ghosh on Saturday, three days before the district votes, as special observer Ajay V. Naik likened the poll situation in Bengal to that of Bihar “10-15 years ago”.

The commission asked the Bengal government not to assign Ghosh, against whom the BJP and the Congress had lodged complaints of bias, any poll-related duty.

Ghosh is the sixth IPS officer to be shifted this poll season. Ajoy Prasad will be the new Malda SP. The poll panel has asked the state to send Ghosh to the police headquarters. “The order was issued on Saturday evening. He (Prasad) will take charge by Sunday morning,” said a Nabanna official.

Poll panel sources said Ghosh was removed after a report from central police observer Vivek Dubey, who reviewed security in Malda on Saturday. “Malda North and Malda South will go to the polls on April 23. It appears the police observer was not happy with the arrangements made by the SP,” said a source.

In Calcutta, special state observer Naik said 92 per cent of the booths would be guarded by central forces in the third phase of the polls on April 23 to be held in the two Malda constituencies, Balurghat, Murshidabad and Jangipur. A total of 324 companies — around 32,000 troopers — will be deployed in the five constituencies.

“This will ensure 92 per cent of the 8,235 booths in the five constituencies will be guarded by central forces. In the first two phases, 60 per cent and 80 per cent booths were guarded by central forces respectively,” said a senior official.

Responding to questions on the increasing central forces, Naik said: “This situation in Bengal is similar to what it was in Bihar 10-15 years ago. Back then, in Bihar, total deployment of central forces in booths was required. Now it is required in Bengal as the people of Bengal have lost faith in the state police and are seeking deployment of central forces in all booths.”

Trinamul termed the statement “highly objectionable and undesirable” and wrote to chief election commissioner Sunil Arora demanding

Nayak’s removal. “… we have reasons to believe that Shri Nayak has started acting in a partisan manner….,” Subrata Bakshi, Trinamul’s all-India general-secretary, said in the letter.

Asked for clarifications later, Naik did not repeat the Bihar parallel and said: “The situation in Bengal is definitely improving and the state is on the right track…. I have no doubt the elections here will be absolutely peaceful and fair.”