Kolkata’s New Commissioner is Known for His No-Nonsense Attitude
In poll season, EC sends a strong message by issuing marching orders to Kolkata CP, Rajeev Kumar and appointing Soumen Mitra. (Photo: IANS/ Altered by <b>The Quint</b>)
In poll season, EC sends a strong message by issuing marching orders to Kolkata CP, Rajeev Kumar and appointing Soumen Mitra. (Photo: IANS/ Altered by The Quint)

Kolkata’s New Commissioner is Known for His No-Nonsense Attitude

It was a temporary reprieve, after all. The tragic collapse of the Girish Park flyover had postponed the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to remove Kolkata’s police commissioner, Rajeev Kumar. The Commission had received complaints against Kumar from all three Opposition parties in the state: the Left, the Congress and the BJP.

Kumar found himself in the eye of a storm after a failed sting operation on BJP leader, Rahul Sinha. Earlier too, there had been complaints recorded against Kumar for destroying evidence in the Sarada case.

A fortnight after one of Kolkata’s worst tragedies, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s blue-eyed boy has now made way for an officer who should have succeeded Surajit Kar Purkayastha as Kolkata’s commissioner of police instead of Kumar in the first place.

Soumen Mitra was special commissioner of police and next in line. But the chief minister bulldozed her way and made her chosen candidate, Kumar, supersede close to 30 officers.


Chief Election Commissioner of India Nasim Zaidi addresses a press conference in Kolkata, on April 14, 2016. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)
Chief Election Commissioner of India Nasim Zaidi addresses a press conference in Kolkata, on April 14, 2016. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)

Snapshotclose

Kolkata Gets New Commissioner

  • Soumen Mitra, a batch senior to his predecessor Rajeev Kumar takes over as Kolkata CP.
  • Rajeev Kumar was removed after EC received complaints from BJP over a failed sting operation involving police personnel.
  • It was due to chief minister Mamata’s intervention that Rajeev Kumar had superseded 30 other officers.
  • New police chief Mitra has a clean image and many believe EC has sent a strong message through his appointment.

New Commissioner

Mitra was shifted out of Kolkata police and appointed additional director general of CID in the state police, and Banerjee’s chosen candidate was given the coveted post.

Now, in the midst of Assembly elections, Mitra, a 1988 batch IPS officer known to be upright and honest with a no-nonsense attitude, has been handpicked by the EC, which has made a departure from the usual practice of seeking a panel of three names from the state government.

Mitra has been described by colleagues as a ‘bhadralok (thorough gentleman); a person who will go through life adhering to the straight path; one who will not do anyone’s bidding, and will never bend backwards to please X or Y.’

A clean and professional image, and the fact that Mitra commands the respect of the rank and file are probably qualities that prompted the EC to finalise his candidature without going through the usual process.

Mitra has served in Kolkata police as deputy commissioner, detective department, deputy commissioner north, and special commissioner of police.



The newly appointed Commissioner of Police Soumen Mitra talks to press at Lalbazar in Kolkata, on April 13, 2016. (Photo: IANS)
The newly appointed Commissioner of Police Soumen Mitra talks to press at Lalbazar in Kolkata, on April 13, 2016. (Photo: IANS)

EC Sends a Strong Signal

Kumar has been appointed Additional Director General of the Anti-Corruption branch of the state government, a new department set up when the Trinamool Congress came to power.

Bureaucrats in Bengal are lauding this move by the EC as a strong signal to their colleagues. The message is clear: Don’t do anything contrary to the provisions of the law. It’s also a warning to officers to refrain from acting on behalf of any one individual, even though she or he may be the chief minister.

In the history of elections in Bengal, the state will see the highest deployment of central forces at polling booths. With just two of the seven phases of elections in the state done, 735 companies will oversee polling in the state.

Kolkata goes to the polls over two days, 21 and 30 April. It remains to be seen whether Mitra will fulfill the faith reposed in him by the EC.

(The writer is a Kolkata-based senior journalist)

Also read:

Post Kolkata Flyover Mishap, Mamata’s Blue-Eyed Boy’s Future Murky

Kolkata Commissioner Rajeev Kumar Removed by EC for Partisan Role

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