In wake of an “accidental” injury to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a rally on Wednesday, the Election Commission on Sunday removed her security in-charge Vivek Sahay and also placed him under suspension with immediate effect.
Sahay was the Director (Security), the top in charge of Banerjee’s security when she suffered an accident during her campaign in Nandigram Assembly constituency on Wednesday evening, leading to “severe bone injuries” on her left foot and ankle as well as bruises and injuries on her shoulder, forearm and neck.
The Commission took the decision in its meeting earlier in the day.
After discussing reports submitted by West Bengal Chief Secretary and the joint report submitted by Special General Observer Ajay Nayak and Special Police Observer Vivek Dube on the incident, the Commission found that Sahay failed to prevail upon the Chief Minister to not flout security protocols.
Perusing the documents of West Bengal Chief Secretary’s report and that of Special Observers based on annexures of reports of the District Magistrate, and the Superintendent of Police of Purba Medinipur and Returning Officer of 210 Nandigram Assembly constituency, and other inputs of the facts and circumstances of the incident, the Commission decided that the charges must be framed against Sahay within a week for grossly failing in discharge of his primary duty as Director Security to protect the Z+ protectee.
“Chief Secretary, in consultation with DGP, is authorised to post suitable Director Security immediately following the extant procedure. Posting order may be communicated to the Commission latest by 1 p.m. on March 15,” the EC decided.
Besides, a Committee of Chief Secretary and DGP shall identify within next three days the other proximate security personnel below Sahay, who failed in their duties to prevent the incident and take suitable action for their failure under intimation to the Commission by 5 p.m. on March 17.
Smita Pandey was posted immediately as District Magistrate and DEO, Purba Medinipur in place of Vibhu Goel, who shall be transferred to a non-election post.
SP Pravin Prakash will also be placed under suspension immediately and charges shall be framed against him for major failure of “bandobast” (arrangements), the EC decided.
Sunil Kumar Yadav has been posted as SP Purba Medinipur.
The commission also decided that Chief Secretary shall ensure the investigation of Nandigram case is completed and consequential action is taken as per law in next 15 days.
“Report in this regard shall be sent to the Commission by March 31, 2021.”
The action was taken as Banerjee, who was on a two-day visit to Nandigram from where she filed her nomination on Wednesday, alleged that she was pushed by a few unidentified people during election campaigning and suffered injuries. The Chief Minister was discharged from the hospital on Friday.
The Commission further directed that since the security of star campaigners further becomes far more sensitive during the election period because of additional criticality due to possible proximity with large crowds and sensational impact of any such incidence on law and order across state, established SoPs, including advance detailed programme, necessary permissions to hold rallies or road shows, deployment, use of bullet proof vehicle, if required as per security category of protectee, deployment on pre decided route(s), observance of provisions of The Motor Vehicle Act, etc should be followed scrupulously.
“Any deviation from approved programme should only be permitted after necessary approval.”
The Commission also decided to issue instructions separately to the Chief Election Officers of all poll-bound states and UTs to bring it to the notice of all political parties and candidates for strict compliance of the security of the star campaigners as per the category of protection and local threat assessment in accordance with extant rules and guidelines or SoPs.
In addition, the commission has also appointed Punjab’s former DGP, Intelligence, Anil Kumar Sharma, as the second Special Police Observer for the West Bengal polls.