The Nagaland government’s decision to remove a director general of police has triggered a political row in the state, with the Opposition alleging it was being done because Rupin Sharma “refused to make back door appointments in the police department”.

Sharma, an IPS officer of the Nagaland cadre, has been the acting DGP since November 2017. In March, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and his deputy Y Patton wrote separate letters to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, asking that Sharma be removed because he was not experienced enough, The Morung Express reported.

Both letters said Sharma had “just 26 years of experience in IPS” and that an officer needed at least 28 years in service to become a DGP. They said Sharma mainly served in the Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of External Affairs and at the UN mission at Kosovo, but had “limited” experience serving in the state.

While Patton said Sharma’s posting was a “stop-gap arrangement” as Assembly elections were due in the state, the chief minister’s letter read, “Given the law and order situation in Nagaland, as well as challenges of policing in the state, it is imperative that an officer of sufficient seniority who is aware of local issues is posted as [the] DGP.”

Chief Secretary Temjen Toy also made identical recommendations in a letter to the Union Home Secretary, according to Nagaland Post.

Toy reportedly said in his letter that Sharma’s “inexperience led to challenges and issues in the conduct of the state Assembly elections in February”, and added that “somehow we were able to ensure the elections were conducted without any major law and order situation”.

The Opposition Naga People’s Front criticised the government’s move saying Sharma was being shunted for “refusing to make back door appointments in the police department.”

“Patton has a track record of flouting all norms and procedures to get his candidates appointed or allotted contract and supply works,” the party said in an official statement. “His wayward behaviour while running the administration was a major source of embarrassment to the last ministry. It added that the “only consolation” was the appointment of Sharma who is “an upright, innovative and capable officer”.

The party called the reasons Patton gave the home ministry to remove Sharma were “flimsy and clearly exposes the malafide intentions of the deputy chief minister”. “Instead of looking at the number of years an officer has served, he [Patton] should consider the performance index of the officer.”