In what could intensify the face-off between the Centre and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Union Home Ministry Thursday asked the West Bengal Chief Secretary to take action against five IPS officers, who shared the stage with Banerjee during her sit-in protest against the CBI.
Home Ministry sources said that it is also considering punitive action, including stripping meritorious awards or barring them from central deputation, against the police officers.
The move comes two days after Banerjee ended her three-day dharna in Kolkata against the recent attempt of CBI officials to raid Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s residence in connection with a chit fund case probe. She ended the protest after the Supreme Court directed Kumar to appear before the CBI in Shillong, the Meghalaya capital, and ordered no coercive steps, including his arrest, will take place during the course of the probe.
Writing to the Bengal Chief Secretary, Malay Kumar De, the Home Ministry sought action against DGP Virendra Kumar, who was earlier in charge of Banerjee’s security, Vineet Goyal, heading security, Anuj Sharma, additional DGP (law and order), Gyanwant Singh, Commissioner Bidhannagar and Supratim Sarkar, Additional Commissioner of Police, Kolkata.
Besides Kolkata Commissioner Kumar, the five IPS officers named by the MHA were said to be part of the sit-in-protest by Banerjee and received a commendation from the Chief Minister during a ceremony. When contacted, the IPS officers refused to comment and said the matter is between the central and state governments.
“The central government has taken a dim view of serving officers of uniformed forces allegedly taking part in sit-in protests and dharnas of the Chief Minister in Kolkata on February 4,” said a home ministry official.
The Home Ministry is the cadre-controlling authority of the IPS. In its communication, the MHA has directed the West Bengal government to take action against the IPS officers for alleged violation of All India Service Rules.
“In addition, a number of measures are also being considered to be initiated against defaulting officers, such as withdrawing medals or decorations which were conferred on them, like meritorious service etc. The Centre may also remove names of the delinquent officers from the empanelled list and bar them for a certain period from serving in the Central government,” said the official.
According to the Home Ministry, they are also contemplating issuing an advisory to all states to ensure that officers of uniformed forces adhere to conduct rules and maintain decorum, and refrain from taking part in such protests.
The Centre had earlier asked the West Bengal government to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Rajeev Kumar for “indiscipline” and violation of services rules. The action, sources said, is based on a report from West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi.