The Election Commission on Friday night removed Anuj Sharma as Kolkata police commissioner and replaced him with Rajesh Kumar, who was the additional director general of police, Pollution Control Board, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, PTI reported.
Sharma was appointed Kolkata police chief in February, taking over from Rajeev Kumar who was transferred to the Crime Investigation Department. The Central Bureau of Investigation had interrogated Rajeev Kumar in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam in February.
The poll body also appointed Natarajan Ramesh Babu commissioner of Bidhannagar Police, replacing Gyanwant Singh. The Bharatiya Janata Party had lodged a complaint with the Election Commission against Singh for alleged police interference when Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife was allegedly found carrying gold at the Kolkata airport.
The Election Commission wrote to West Bengal Chief Secretary Malay Dey, directing that the orders be immediately implemented and sought a compliance report within 24 hours. The move comes days after BJP leaders had alleged that free and fair elections would not be possible in the state under these officers.
The poll panel has also made it clear that Sharma and Singh should not be involved in “any election related duties”, reported Hindustan Times.
The poll panel appointed Avannu Ravindranath and Srihari Pandey superintendents of police of Birbhum and Diamond Harbour.
Opposition parties in the state have welcomed the move, reported PTI. Congress’ Pradip Bhattacharya told PTI that there were some police officers working for the Trinamool Congress government and that such move was welcome. Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sujan Chakraborty also described the move as a positive. “I think this was a good move of the ECI otherwise free and fair elections were not possible,” he said.