Police the casualty in Kolkata murder
The killing of a police officer by suspected Trinamool Congress-sheltered criminals is a bad enough commentary on Kolkata's law and order. But what has followed is even worse.
Commissioner of Kolkata Police R K Pachnanda was removed for "failure" in handling the incident. However, given that the police had moved against a councillor close to the ruling party that theory is hard to swallow. Pachnanda couldn't have ignored proof on camera against Iqbal Ahmed — especially when a fellow member of the police force was involved — and paid the price.
What is even more remarkable about the action taken against the police chief is that Pachnanda was considered close to Mamata and had been handpicked by her. After the infamous Park Street rape, he had toed the CM's line. After she termed it a "fabricated case", Pachnanda had called it a bid to "malign the government's image".
Interestingly, in that case, another police officer, Joint CP (Crime) Damayanti Sen, had been shown the door for saying there was truth in the rape allegation and cracking the case.
On matters of the arrest of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra over a cartoon "defaming" Mamata as well as the blocking of Salman Rushdie from Kolkata Book Fair too, Pachnanda was seen to have facilitated what the government desired.
His unceremonious sacking for taking a step considered right, and unavoidable, has rattled the administration. Congress leader and Union minister Adhir Chowdhury Wednesday said that Pachnanda had been removed to send the message that "The police will have to work according to the whims and fancies of Trinamool ministers."
Mamata can ill-afford this controversy at a time when her regime — facing financial crunch, a crisis in the hills, and disenchantment among once supportive intellectuals — is going through one of its lowest phases.