Top cop shown the door

Heads have begun to roll in the aftermath of the killing of a police officer in Garden Reach area of Kolkata. Kolkata Police Commissioner R K Pachnanda was removed from his post late on Thursday evening.

The move comes just two days after the campus clash in which Special Branch police officer Tapas Choudhury was killed, and within hours of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's return to Kolkata from Digha.

Mamata told the media at Writers' Buildings that the commissioner's removal was a sequel to the Garden Reach incident, and that the police had failed to arrest those named in the FIR.

However, top police officers as well as bureaucrats revealed that the reason for the Pachnanda's unceremonious exit could surely be attributed to manipulations by Trinamool Congress cabinet minister Firhad Hakim, who had a definite stake in protecting some of the culprits in the case and a score to settle with the top brass of Kolkata Police.

Complaints were lodged with Mamata about the handling of the Garden Reach situation. One top police officer said: "Firhad took his pound of flesh by influencing the CP's removal as revenge for his closest aide in Garden Reach — Iqbal Ahmed, TMC councillor and borough chairman — having been put in the dock by the police."

Chief secretary Sanjoy Mitra, responding to media queries, said: "The transfer of offiecers is always a prerogative of the government. There is no good transfer, bad transfer. The government acts in the best interests of the people."

Surojit Kar Purokayastha took charge as Kolkata Police Commissioner late tonight. He said he would try to shoulder the responsibility given to him, and that the police would strictly follow the rule of law.

Even as news broke about Pachnanda being removed, a huge contingent of policemen from the anti-rowdy section of Lalbazar, Kolkata Police headquarters, swooped down on Ahmed's house at Iron Gate Road in Garden Reach. Six jeeploads of policemen searched his house but he could not be found. Raids were continuing for both Iqbal aka Munna of TMC and Mokhtar of Congress. Both have gone into hiding and might surrender or seek anticipatory bail tomorrow, it was learnt.

A section of top TMC leadership along with Urban Development Minister Firhad reportedly did not like the way two FIRs were lodged after the murder incident. One of these charged Iqbal with rioting, attempt to murder and carrying firearms — all non-bailable sections. Firhad was time and again seen defending Iqbal, saying that the councillor was in no way involved in the crime. But the police had other versions.

Top police sources said Pachnanda had little option but to register a case against Iqbal as he was under tremendous pressure from within the force to take appropriate steps to book the culprits who were caught on camera. Iqbal was seen actively engaging his cadres during the violence. Even the alleged killer was seen next to him in one clip. Had Pachnanda compromised by putting a protective cover on Iqbal and his men, there would have been serious repercussions in the force, top police officers said.

In fact, sparks flew soon after the murder of Choudhury at the Body Guard Lines and the Special Branch headquarters, where the rank and file questioned why contingents were sent to the college union election without arms when there were specific intelligence inputs about violence. As a result of the pressure from within, Kolkata Police headquarters was somewhat forced to carry out immediate raids in Garden Reach in search of Iqbal and Mokhtar from Wednesday night. At the Body Guard Lines in Alipore, armed forces members were close to revolt on Wednesday afternoon and heckled a number of senior officers.

The government was also unhappy about the near absence of senior police officers at the site of the murder on Tuesday. Pachnanda reportedly reached the spot nearly five hours after the incident, raising questions in the force as well as in the government about the delayed response.

Pachnanda now joins the ranks of several police commissioners who had to make unceremonious exits from their posts —- including Biren Saha and Prasun Mukherjee (fallout of Rizwanur Rahman case), former Commissioners of Kolkata Police during the Left regime. Under the Mamata government, Pachnanda is the second to leave under bitter circumstances after Damayanti Sen, the former Joint Commissioner of Kolkata Police who was removed over the Park Street rape case.

The sudden removal of Pachnanda is expected to adversely affect the morale of the police force, with those at the top suffering from lack of confidence, said top officers.


R K Pachnanda posted as ADG Security.

Surojit Kar Purokayastha posted as CP, Kolkata.

Soumyen Mitra posted as ADG Law and Order.

Banibrata Bose posted as IG law and order.

G M Reddy posted as ADG Intelligence Branch

Virendra posted as ADG adminstration .

CID, West Bengal, takes over investigation of Garden Reach police officer murder case

Ripple effect

R K Pachnanda posted as ADG Security

Surojit Kar Purokayastha posted as CP, Kolkata

n Soumyen Mitra posted as ADG, Law and Order.

n Banibrata Bose posted as IG, Law and Order

n G M Reddy posted as ADG, Intelligence Branch

n Virendra posted as ADG, Adminstration

CID, West Bengal, takes over investigation of Garden Reach police officer murder case

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