Kolkata, Feb 14: Mamata Banerjee was at her unpredictable best on Thursday when she removed Kolkata Police Commissioner Ranjit Kumar Pachnanda within hours of her return from her tour of East Midnapore district where he had an administrative meeting at sea town Digha. The chief minister said Pachnanda was removed as a fall out of Tuesday's violence in a college in Kolkata which claimed the life of an unarmed policeman. The victim, Tapash Chowdhury, was a veteran sub-inspector of the city police and he succumbed to the injuries caused by a stray bullet fired during the commotion.
Pachnanda, who was shifted as additional director general, security, was replaced by Surajit Kar Purkayastha.
But the top cop's transfer created a huge uproar in the media, Opposition parties and common people. What was striking was that those who were allegedly responsible for the cop's death, were not caught and instead the police commissioner was removed.
A top minister of the Mamata government was also accused of guarding the criminals and political observers felt that through Pachnanda's removal, the ruling party was sending a clear message: Don't mess with us or you will be in trouble.The TMC leadership believed that Pachnanda acted partially by arresting only its supporters and not those of the Congress, who it believed was equally responsible for the mayhem.
Earlier, the former police commissioner, sensing that the police force was not taking the matter lightly, went to the police station in the area where the incident took place and ordered immediate arrest of the criminals. He also handed over Rs 2 lakh to the family of Chowdhury, saying it was a contribution on behalf of the police.
Seikh Suhan, allegedly an aide of TMC councilor Mohammed Iqbal was caught shooting the policeman on the camera. A TMC minister said he did not believe that Iqbal was in anyway involved in the incident.
Whoever is at fault, the CM's action raised a pertinent question: If a policeman's murder in broad daylight has failed to move her government and instead of nabbing the killers, it has decided to shift the top cop himself, then what guarantee it gives to ensure that the common man of the state is safe and secured? According to a senior Left leader, such action is not only encouraging the criminals to do whatever they feel, but at the same time it is crippling the administration beyond a point of no return.
The Bengal CM had been targeting her own administration for some time now. She had removed an efficient police officer from probing a rape case, put an administrative officer in the compulsory waiting list, remarked that many officers in her administration belonged to the CPI(M) and hence were not carrying out responsibilities properly and now the removal of the police commissioner. Is this a sign of a healthy governance?
Banerjee, who turned up at the residence of the slain cop 52 hours after the incident, was found making promises to the family. She announced a job for the daughter of the policeman, financial help to the family besides pledging government support for the education of Chowdhury's son.
But we all know, little of the promises made to another cop, Ashim Dam, who was killed by some goons when he tried to protect his sister from being molested by them, actually saw the light of the day. What's the guarantee that Chowdhury's family will not witness a different outcome? As for the Left, a daring police officer was butchered near where Chowdhury was killed 28 years ago when it was in power. Parties conveniently select their stand when in the Opposition.
A paribartan, indeed. That of the political colour and position.