Kolkata: Three days after campus violence rocked Kolkata's Garden Reach area and left a police sub-inspector dead, the move by the state government to transfer Kolkata Police Commissioner Ranjit Kumar Pachnanda has come under severe criticism by the Governor as well as the Opposition.
Questions are being raised about the timing and the motive of the move to shift the police chief as sources say Pachnanda's exit was precipitated after the key accused Sheikh Suhan, an active member of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), was taken into custody after being caught on camera firing at the sub-inspector.
The Congress said Pachnanda was being targeted. "This would have a serious morale blow to the entire police organisation. It appeared to be in-subservient to the dictates of the ruling regime. Pachnanda has been brought to book by the Chief Minister of West Bengal herself," Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Choudhary said.
The CPM also attacked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying she was making Pachnanda a scapegoat and was passing the buck.
Earlier, West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan said, "I don't know the reason why the Police Commissioner has been removed.But if it has something to do with what has happened in the last few days, I think it is something that will have to be looked at very carefully." Suhan is also allegedly close to Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim who himself is in Mamata's inner circle of trust.
Mamata had justified the transfer by saying that delay in filing an FIR and action against the accused led to Pachnanda being shunted out.
The accused Suhan is allegedly close to Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim who is Mamata's close aide. Another influential Trinamool leader Mohammed Iqbal named in the FIR is still at large.
Mamata said, "Why have people with criminal records not been arrested? The guilty have to be punished. There was a delay in taking action so I had to take matters into my own hands."
The slain policeman, Tapas Chowdhury, a sub-inspector, was shot from close range while trying to control the clashing students in West Kolkata's Garden Reach area on Tuesday. Twelve people have been taken into custody in connection with the killing. Pachananda's transfer comes at a time when the Mamata government has been facing lot of criticism over the incident, especially for the alleged shielding of a Trinamool Councillor by her party men.
Mamata, who too visited the bereaved family, lost her cool to a media poser about Iqbal's arrest. However, she gave an indication of her displeasure, saying some names were missing from the FIR and that she would enquire about the matter. Mamata, who visited the policeman's family two days after the incident, offered some relief on compassionate grounds.
Pachnanda is not the only senior officer to face Mamata's ire. In 2012, Damayanti Sen was shunted out after she made quick arrests in the high-profile Park Street rape case.
(With additional information from PTI)