In a major reshuffle of police officials ahead of the May 5 Assembly elections, the State government on Tuesday transferred 362 police officials — 291 Inspectors and 71 Deputy Superintendents of Police/Assistant Commissioners of Police.

According to a government order, the officials have been directed to report for duty to their newly assigned posts within 24 hours. “No officer shall avail himself of joining time or proceed on leave under any pretext,” the order said directing the Commissioners and Superintendents of Police to relieve them without awaiting substitutes.

The transfers, which come after a clearance from the Election Commission of India was obtained on April 18, are expected to not only clear the suspense and confusion prevailing among the police officials, but also address the concerns of several candidates from the Opposition parties, who were complaining about the delay in transfer of officials serving in their native places or in the same post for more than three years.

The proposal to transfer more than 360 police officials of the rank of Inspector and Deputy Superintendent, recommended by the Police Establishment Board (PEB) more than a fortnight ago, was pending clearance by the ECI even as the process of elections had reached an advanced stage — barely a fortnight left for campaigning to end.

Complaint

Many candidates, particularly those belonging to the Opposition parties, have begun complaining against the continuation of these police officials, most of whom “owe their loyalties either to the sitting MLA or the Minister in-charge of the district”.

Sources in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer attributed the delay to the clarification sought by the ECI to the list sent by the PEB. According to ECI guidelines, these officials need to be transferred to ensure “free and fair” polls.

More In: Karnataka | National