New Delhi: The police officer in-charge of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s security when she was injured during a visit to the state’s Nandigram, just weeks before the elections, has been suspended by the Election Commission.
“Vivek Sahay IPS, Director Security shall be removed from the post of the Director Security and be placed under suspension immediately. The charges must be framed against him within a week for grossly failing in discharge of his primary duty as Director Security to protect the Z+ protectee.” the Election Commission said, soon after declaring that the incident was an accident and not an attack.
The election body also directed the West Bengal Chief Secretary to find out within three days other officers in-charge of the Chief Minister’s security who faulted in their duties and take action against them.
The Commission, which held a meeting to discuss the issue after receiving a report on Friday, pointed out lapses on part of the Chief Minister’s security personnel.
Security was “not properly handled” and the Chief Minister’s security protocol was violated, the Commission said.
Mamata Banerjee, who has Z-Plus security, has to travel in a bullet-proof car, but she was not. Instead, the security in-charge was sitting in the bullet-proof car, the Commission said.
On Wednesday, Banerjee had said she was pushed by four or five people against her car and had the door shut on her, during her visit to Nandigram. There were no police personnel around her at the time, she had said.
The next day, however, she made no reference to the attack, saying instead, “It is true that I was very badly hurt yesterday and that I have a foot injury, a bone injury and in the ligament and I had pain in my head and chest as a result of the injury”.
“I was greeting people from the car bonnet and a huge pressure came….and the car crushed my foot,” said the 66-year-old, who has been back on the campaign trail in a wheelchair.
Her party, the ruling Trinamool Congress, however, had blamed it squarely on the Election Commission’s move to replace the state police chief.
In a letter to the poll body, the party said an attempt was made on the Chief Minister’s life “within 24 hours of the removal of the Bengal police chief” by the Election Commission without the state government being consulted.
The Commission, which had immediately ordered an inquiry into the Nandigram incident, said the Trinamool memo questioned the “very basis of formation and functioning of the Election Commission”.
The poll panel said it was “completely incorrect” to suggest that it had taken over the law and order machinery in the state in the name of conducting elections.
“It looks undignified to even respond to the allegations of all this being done at the behest of a particular political party,” its letter read.
Following the Mamata Banerjee incident, the Election Commission has asked all the Chief Electoral Officers of the five states where polls are to be held, to inform political parties to strictly follow security protocols for star campaigners.