Union home secy holds video-conference with WB's chief secy, DGP; discusses law and order

Last Updated 18 December 2020, 16:50 IST

Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla discussed the law-and-order situation in West Bengal with two top civil and police officers of the state through a video-conference on Friday, after their refusal to come to New Delhi despite two repeated summonses, officials said.

The meeting was first scheduled for December 14, days after an attack on BJP president J P Nadda's convoy in West Bengal, but had to be cancelled after state Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay and Director General of Police (DGP) Virendra refused to travel to the national capital.

The two officers were again called on Thursday for a meeting on Friday. They again refused to come but offered to attend the meeting through a video-conference.

They were asked by the Union home secretary to explain the law-and-order situation in West Bengal which they did, a home ministry official said.

The home secretary is also believed to have asked the two officers about the political violence in the state and the steps taken to check it.

The attack on Nadda's convoy and the state government's refusal to relieve three IPS officers summoned for central deputation were also understood to have figured in the meeting, another official said.

The chief secretary and the DGP were called by the home ministry on December 14 after receiving a report on December 11 from West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on the law-and-order situation in the state.

Dhankhar was asked to submit a report after Nadda's convoy was attacked with stones and bricks in West Bengal's Diamond Harbour on December 10 during his two-day visit to the state.

The Centre and the West Bengal government have been at loggerheads since the attack that took place in the Lok Sabha constituency of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee.

After the attack, the home ministry summoned three IPS officers -- Bholanath Pandey (SP, Diamond Harbour), Praveen Tripathi (DIG, Presidency Range) and Rajeev Mishra (ADG, South Bengal) -- for deputations at the Centre. The three were responsible for Nadda's security during his visit to the state.

However, the state government refused to relieve them citing a shortage of senior police officers.

On Thursday, the home ministry sent a fresh missive to the West Bengal government, asking it to immediately relieve the three IPS officers, saying they were already given new assignments.

The ministry said Pandey was appointed as a superintendent of police (SP) in the Bureau of Police Research and Development, Tripathi as the deputy inspector general (DIG) in the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Mishra as the inspector general (IG) in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

"This move, particularly before the elections is against the basic tenets of the federal structure. It's unconstitutional & completely unacceptable!" Banerjee had tweeted in response.

"GoI's (Government of India) order of central deputation for the 3 serving IPS officers of West Bengal despite the State's objection is a colourable exercise of power and blatant misuse of emergency provision of IPS Cadre Rule 1954," she had said.

A state government's consent is taken before an all-India service officer is called to serve in central deputation.

However, in this case, the home ministry took the decision unilaterally, bypassing the state government under a clause of the Indian Police Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954.

The rules say that in case of a disagreement between the central and state governments, the state governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Centre.

(Published 18 December 2020, 16:22 IST)

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