July 3, 2021 10:15:21 am
Senior IPS officer Harpreet Singh Sidhu will once again take charge as the chief of Punjab’s anti-drug Special Task Force (STF) chief – the third time in five years – soon after he returns from study leave, as per a government order.
Sidhu, an Additional Director General of Police, was on study leave (ex-India) for six months and returned from the United States in the last week of June. As per a Punjab government order dated June 30 accessed by The Indian Express, Sidhu has been posted as ADGP STF, relieving 1994-batch IPS officer B Chandra Sekhar from the additional charge assigned to him. Sekhar was given the additional charge of heading the STF on December 12, 2020, during the “tenure of study/earner leave of the officer [Harpreet Sidhu]”.
Sidhu is likely to take charge of the STF on July 12. His posting order read that the officer will assume charge of the said assignment on return from leave.
The STF was constituted soon after the Congress formed government in Punjab in March 2017. Chief Minister capt Amarinder Singh, in the run up to polls, had vowed crackdown on drugs and combat the menace in four week’s time. A 1992-batch-IPS officer, Sidhu was appointed as head of the STF. The officer, who was on deputation with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) where he was commanding units engaged in anti-Naxal operation in Chhatisgarh, was handpicked by the CM. He joined the anti-drug force after premature repatriation from central deputation, which otherwise was to end in June 2018.
Sidhu was removed as STF chief in September 2018 and posted as special principal secretary to the CM amid reports of friction between him and then DGP Suresh Arora. He was replaced by DGP rank officer Mohammad Mustafa, who too was subsequently replaced by ADGP-rank officer Gurpreet Deo. In July 2019, Sidhu was posted back as STF chief.
He is now again set to head the STF at a time when Punjab is heading for Assembly elections early next year and the issue of drug menace has become one of the talking points with Congress high command recently telling Amarinder Singh to implement 18-key pre-poll promises, including crackdown on drug mafia, in a time bound manner.
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