Controversy has erupted in Chhattisgarh after the state government on Sunday transferred the Sukma Superintendent of Police, Jitendra Shukla, less than a month after his appointment to the district, after he refused to transfer an SHO as per the wishes of a senior cabinet minister.
The Congress, in an official press release, said that the minister concerned, Kawasi Lakhma — a five-time MLA from Sukma — knows the “problems of the area better”, and said that upon receiving the request from the minister, Shukla should have either acted on it, or responded in an appropriate manner, and not have chosen to write an “offensive” and “condemnable” letter.
Shukla has now been transferred to the police headquarters in Raipur.
The incident stems from a letter that Lakhma, state Minister for Excise and Industries, wrote to Shukla on February 15 — less than a fortnight after he was appointed Sukma SP. Lakhma asked Shukla to transfer Surendra Pambhoi from acting Thana in-charge of Phulbagdi, to thana prabhari of Chindgad or Tongpal. Six days later, Shukla wrote back to the minister, stating that “the law and order and security situation in a district is the responsibility of the Superintendent of Police, and he does this through the thana prabharis under him, and it is his exclusive right to transfer them. It is not correct to put external pressure on this duty of the Superintendent of Police, and therefore it is not possible to transfer Surendra Pambhoi.”
The BJP has hit out at the Congress, calling this a symbol of “administrative incompetence”, adding that in Maoist-hit districts such as Sukma, officials present must have independence to work.
O P Choudhary, a former Dantewada district magistrate who is now with the BJP, said, “If there is no independence of work for officials in such difficult terrains, and that too a police station level posting which is very low in the administrative scheme of things, then those personnel that are braving conditions to fight Maoist, their morale will go down….There will be a lot of damage to that if this is allowed to continue.”
The Congress, in its release, said that during the BJP regime, public representatives had to face insults from the bureaucracy, and that the new government had restored their pride.
When contacted for comment, D M Awasthi, Director General of Police said, “Transfers of officials is the prerogative of the state government.”