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

The tragic collapse of the flyover has put on hold the decision regarding Kolkata’s Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar.

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The tragic collapse of the Girish Park flyover has put on hold the decision regarding Kolkata’s Commissioner of Police Rajeev Kumar.

A day before the horrific mishap, there was a strong buzz that the Election Commission may ask for Kumar’s removal over an alleged sting on BJP leader Rahul Sinha. Kumar was accused of sending two policemen to the BJP headquarters to carry out a ‘sting’ on Sinha.

Rajeev Kumar: The Top Cop

On 29 January this year, at the behest of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Rajeev Kumar, a 1989 batch IPS officer superseded close to 30 senior colleagues to be appointed Commissioner of Police in Kolkata.

A huge section of the bureaucracy was upset by this blatantly partisan move. As expected, despondency set in. Out of the 30 senior colleagues Rajeev Kumar had jumped over, 25 were in West Bengal and the rest at the Centre.

The tragic collapse of the flyover has put on hold the decision regarding Kolkata’s Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar.
Kolkata’s Commissioner of Police Rajeev Kumar. (Photo: ANI)

Is the Chief Minister a law unto herself? Or does Kumar possess some exceptional talent that justified this huge promotion ? The answer is simple. With elections around the corner, Banerjee needed the top cop on her side.

The police circles are peeved, perhaps with good reason. A senior officer in the state says,

This kind of promotion creates bad blood. Yes, Kumar possesses qualities that others do not – malleable and ready to do the chief minister’s bidding. Not every officer will be this pliant.

Members of the police force say that even during the Left Front’s rule, “chosen” officers were put in key positions but there was some degree of decency and fair play.

It is a tragic signal being sent out to the rest of the officers in Bengal.

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It is alleged that as the Bidhannagar Commissioner, Kumar stalled the probe into the Sarada chit fund scam that devastated thousands in the state. Is that a good enough reason to be rewarded?

We are living in Orwellian times. The Narada sting allegedly exposes an IPS officer, who was the superintendent of police in Burdwan, taking wads of currency notes from the owner of a fictitious company. No action is taken against him.
Senior Police Officer in Kolkata

But then again Kumar’s proximity to the Chief Minister is well known.

The tragic collapse of the flyover has put on hold the decision regarding Kolkata’s Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar.
Rescue operations underway at the site where a part of a portion of Vivekananda Flyover collapsed in Kolkata on 31 March 2016. (Photo: IANS)

Kumar: The Hero of the Successful Operation

It is believed that Kumar conducted the rather amateur sting on a BJP leader on the orders of the Chief Minister. It is the same Kumar who had Banerjee’s blessings when he nabbed the Kolkata Port Trust Chairman RPS Kahlon in a sting operation last month.

Banerjee reportedly needed to put Kahlon in his place after he took on Venkatesh Films, a group close to the Chief Minister. Kahlon got Venkatesh Films to vacate the land on Hyde Road which they were allegedly occupying. He deployed CISF groups to evict them. When the Chief Minister learnt of this she enraged. Kahlon’s calls were recorded and a trap was laid out. Just when he was allegedly accepting a Rs 20 lakh bribe in a five-star hotel, Kahlon was arrested.

Emboldened, overconfident and at his leader’s service, Kumar dived into another rather sloppily organised sting. But this time, things went wrong.

Faced with this unimaginably horrific tragedy in the state, will the Election Commission refrain from ‘disturbing’ the administration at this critical point, thereby giving Kumar a new lease of life? Meanwhile, Kumar is overseeing rescue operations in north Kolkata.

In Banerjee’s bastion her band of loyalists, ethical or unethical, will be protected. But will this blue-eyed officer leave her with a hint of a black eye?

(The writer is a Kolkata-based senior journalist.)

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