In a dramatic move, the Commissioner of Kolkata Police, R. K. Pachnanda, was removed from his post on Thursday, a decision which Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she was forced to take because of delay in arresting the accused involved in the violence and murder of a police sub-inspector in the city two days ago.
“Since there has been a delay in taking action in the matter, I had to take the action,” she told journalists here in a direct indictment of the functioning of the City Police with Mr. Pachnanda at the helm.
This has prompted the State Government’s decision to hand over the case to the Criminal Investigation Department.
The decision to remove the top police officer came hours after Ms. Banerjee arrived at the State Secretariat after visiting the residence of the slain policeman in the southern part of the city.
It came amid allegations that some of her own party including the Minister for Urban Development, Firhad Hakim, were shielding the local Trinamool Congress councillor Mohd Iqbal against whom the police have registered a case in connection with the incident.
Additional Director-General of Police (Law & Order) Surojit Kar Purakayastha has been appointed the new City Police chief. Mr. Banibrata Basu has replaced Mr. Purakayastha and Mr. Pachnanda has been given the portfolio of Additional Director-General Security.
Commenting on the developments, Governor M. K. Narayanan said: “There may be several reasons why a Police Commissioner is removed but if he has been removed for something to do with what has happened over the last few days there is something quite clearly wrong and has to be looked into.”
Questioning why all those responsible were not yet arrested, Ms. Banerjee said, “I want criminals and those named in the FIR… those responsible for the violence be punished.”
Describing the transfer as routine, State Chief Secretary Sanjoy Mitra said it was done in the “overall interest of the State and the overall interest of maintaining law and order”.