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Friday, January 28, 2022

Hours before code of conduct, Punjab gets new DGP

🔴 1987-batch IPS officer Viresh Kumar Bhawra replaces 1987-batch Siddharth Chattopadhyaya who was serving as the officiating DGP.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
Updated: January 9, 2022 7:17:03 am
Viresh Kumar BhawraViresh Kumar Bhawra assumed charge as Director General of Police Punjab on Saturday. (Express Photo)

HOURS ahead of the announcement of poll schedule for the Assembly elections, bringing the code of conduct into place, the Punjab government appointed 1987-batch IPS officer Viresh Kumar Bhawra as the state Director General of Police.

He replaces 1987-batch Siddharth Chattopadhyaya who was serving as the officiating DGP.

The Indian Express had earlier reported that Bhawra was likely to be picked as the new DGP, from the panel of three names shared by the Charanjit Singh Channi government. Of the other two, Dinkar Gupta had been removed as DGP by Channi in September last year, and Prabodh Kumar had sought Central deputation.

The Punjab government also announced the transfer of seven IPS officers, including Harmandeep Singh Hans who, as Senior Superintendent of Police, Ferozepur, was one of the officers deployed during the “security lapse” involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Hans has been named Commandant, 3rd India Reserve Battalion, Ludhiana. The current Command, Narinder Bhargav, is the new SSP, Ferozepur.

Hans along with other officials had appeared on Friday before a three-member panel formed by the Union Home Ministry to inquire into the “serious lapses” in Modi’s security. Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari) chief Surjeet Singh Phul, whose union had blocked the road in Ferozepur, had said the SSP informed them Modi was coming by road but that they thought it was “a bluff to get the road cleared”.

Chattopadhyaya had been brought in as the DGP at the insistence of Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu. With him mounting pressure on his party’s government to regularise Chattopadhyaya, the IPS officer was included in the list of 10 names sent by the state to the UPSC on September 30 for appointment to the post. Norms mandate that any officer considered for the post should have at least six months of service left. Chattopadhyaya made it by a whisker as he retires on March 31, 2022.

However, a fresh list was sent after the UPSC sought clarification on the cut-off date to consider the earlier names – noting that as Dinkar Gupta had relinquished charge on October 5, that would be considered as the cut-off date. This ruled out Chattopadhyaya and Rohit Choudhary, who also retires on March 31.

The DGP’s post has been caught up in the Congress internal friction in the state. After Channi took charge in September 2021 from Amarinder Singh, Dinkar Gupta proceeded on leave (he was subsequently appointed head of Punjab Police Housing Corporation and relinquished charge on October 5). After this, Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota, a 1988-batch IPS officer, was appointed officiating DGP.

On the intervening night of December 16 and 17, Chattopadhyaya was appointed officiating DGP.

An engineering graduate from Rajasthan, Bhawra has served in Assam, the Intelligence Bureau, the government of India in different capacities, and in Punjab as SSP, Mansa, DIG, Patiala Range, IGP, Bathinda, and as DGP/ ADGP, Intelligence. His profile says he is a recipient of the olice medal for meritorious service and the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service.

In other transfers Saturday, police officers who had been holding additional charges were regularised.

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