Centre asks West Bengal to relieve 3 IPS officers immediately

The three officers were responsible for the security of BJP chief J.P. Nadda, whose convoy was attacked at Diamond Harbour.

The Centre sent a fresh missive to the West Bengal government on Thursday, asking it to immediately relieve three IPS officers who have been sought for central deputation, saying all of them were already given new assignments, officials said.

In a communication to the West Bengal chief secretary, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said according to the IPS cadre rules, the Centre prevails over a state government in case of any dispute.

It said the three IPS officers were already given new assignments in the central government and they should be relieved immediately, the officials said.

The three officers — Bholanath Pandey (SP, Diamond Harbour), Praveen Tripathi (DIG, Presidency Range) and Rajeev Mishra (ADG, South Bengal) — were responsible for the security of BJP chief J P Nadda during his December 9-10 visit to the politically volatile State.

The three IPS officers were directed to join the central deputation for alleged dereliction of duties after Mr. Nadda’s convoy was attacked at Diamond Harbour.

The MHA said Mr. Pandey has been appointed as the SP in the Bureau of Police Research and Development, Mr. Tripathi as the DIG in the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Mr. Mishra as the IG in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

The copy of the letter has also been sent to the West Bengal Director General of Police (DGP).

On December 12, the West Bengal government had conveyed to the Centre that it would not be able to spare the three IPS officers.

The state government’s consent is taken before any all-India service officer is called to serve in central deputation. However, in this case, the MHA has unilaterally taken the decision, bypassing the state government, under a clause of the Indian Police Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954.

The rules say in case of any disagreement between the central and the state governments, the “state governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the central government.”

The MHA had summoned the West Bengal chief secretary and DGP on December 14 for an explanation on the law-and-order situation in the State. However, the State government had refused to acknowledge the summons.

The two top civil and police officers were called by the MHA after West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar sent a report on the attack on Mr. Nadda’s convoy with stones and bricks at Diamond Harbour, the Lok Sabha constituency of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee.

The West Bengal government has not sent a report on the “serious security lapses” during Mr. Nadda’s visit to the state, as sought by the MHA. The chief minister had termed the attack on his convoy a “staged act.”

Blatant misuse of power: Mamata

Hitting out at the Centre, Ms. Banerjee said on Thursday that its order, seeking the deputation of three senior police officers from the State, is a blatant misuse of power and her government would not cow-down before “expansionist” and “undemocratic” forces.

In a series of tweets, Ms. Banerjee said that it was a deliberate attempt by the Centre to encroach upon the State’s jurisdiction and demoralise the serving officers in West Bengal. “This move, particularly before the elections is against the basic tenets of the federal structure. It’s unconstitutional & completely unacceptable!” she said.

“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,” Banerjee tweeted.

“We wouldnt allow this brazen attempt by the Centre to control the State machinery by proxy! West Bengal is not going to cow-down in front of expansionist & undemocratic forces,” the chief minister tweeted.

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