The Election Commission of India (ECI) has suspended a high-ranking poll observer deputed to Odisha on charges of “dereliction of duty” with regard to “SPG protectees” — in a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
According to the ECI order, Karnataka cadre IAS officer Mohammed Mohsin was suspended for “actions contrary to the instructions of the Commission concerning SPG protectees” on April 16 — the day SPG protectee Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Sambalpur to address an election rally.
According to officials, Mohsin in the capacity of General Observer attempted to check the helicopter that brought the Prime Minister.
A senior Odisha government official with direct knowledge of the matter said, “The PM had started addressing the rally. Mohsin approached the SPG stationed by the helicopter and requested a search. SPG demanded a document authorising him to do so. The search was allowed, but it delayed the PM’s departure by 20 minutes.”
“As far as I know, General Observer (Mohsin) only observes and reports to the ECI. He has no authority to order an inspection,” the officer said.
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According to his LinkedIn profile, Mohsin is currently secretary in Karnataka’s Backward Class Welfare Department. The EC website states that he has been deployed as General Observer from April 4 to May 23 for four Assembly constituencies under Sambalpur Lok Sabha — Kuchinda, Rengali, Sambalpur and Rairakhol. According to the order, Mohsin is working “under the supervision and control of the Commission”.
According to the ECI order, Mohsin’s suspension order was issued after reports from the Chief Electoral Officer (Odisha), District Election Officer (Sambalpur) and DIG (Sambalpur).
All three concerned authorities, along with Mohsin, did not respond to calls and texts requesting comment.
The EC order comes after a video, reportedly shot on Monday, showed Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan engaging in a heated argument with police officials who, sources said, were part of a flying squad in Odisha that had requested to check his luggage.
#WATCH Video showing Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan scuffling with police officials goes viral; the incident reportedly happened on Monday when EC’s surveillance teams tried to inspect his chopper at MCL helipad in Sambalpur #Odisha pic.twitter.com/SWhyYh7htF
— OTV (@otvnews) April 16, 2019
Meanwhile, a separate video showing a flying squad inspection of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s helicopter in Rourkela on Tuesday has gone viral. The Chief Minister is shown sitting calmly as the cabin of the helicopter is subjected to a thorough examination.
The video first shows a group approaching the helicopter, which had just landed. After a man speaks to the Chief Minister, he is seen attempting to move out of the cabin, but his security guards request for inspection while allowing Patnaik to remain seated.