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Bengaluru top cop who ‘fact-checked’ mantri on road-rage case transferred, govt denies ‘motive’

Decision comes month after IPS officer Kamal Pant took to social media to dispel rumours about communal angle to alleged road-rage incident that led to one person's murder.

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New Delhi: The Karnataka government Monday transferred IPS officer Kamal Pant out of his role as Bengaluru City Police Commissioner with “immediate effect”. The decision comes a month after Pant took to social media to dispel rumours about a communal angle to an alleged road-rage incident, but the state government has described the move as a “routine transfer”.

Karnataka BJP leaders were among those who had alleged communal overtones to the April road-rage incident, and state party general secretary C.T. Ravi had accused Pant of “lying” and “misleading” the narrative. Ravi had claimed the alleged victim, Chandru, was stabbed by the accused — who were Muslims — because “he could not speak in Urdu”.

Investigation in the case was later transferred from Bengaluru Police to the state police’s Crime Investigation Department (CID).

Pant will now take charge as Director General of Police (Recruitment). He has been succeeded as Bengaluru Police Commissioner by C.H. Pratap Reddy, who was the Additional Director General (ADG, law and order), said a state government notice, accessed by ThePrint.

Four other senior police officers were also served transfer notices on the same day.

While Pant’s transfer is being linked to last month’s incident, a senior IPS officer in Karnataka said “there were several factors involved in this transfer order”.

“The Chandru murder case could be one of the reasons why Pant was transferred, but he was already serving in this position for 22 months. Many were seeking an elevation for other officers as well, since the tenure (of the police commissioner) is for a year,” the officer added.

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra told ThePrint Tuesday that “it was a routine transfer and no motive can be attributed to this move since he had completed 22 months already (as commissioner)”. “This is a reshuffle which is done periodically every year,” he added.

Also read: How ex-IPS Bhaskar Rao, Chennai-born ‘Bengaluru boy’, aims to boost AAP’s Karnataka push

‘Hindu Dalit stabbed for not knowing Urdu’

According to Bengaluru Police, on 5 April, a bike being driven by 22-year-old Chandru and his friend Simon Raj bumped into that of another rider identified as Shahid.

A heated exchange followed, during which Chandru was stabbed in his thigh. He eventually died from severe blood loss.

Police arrested Shahid and two of his friends following the incident and booked them for murder. According to police, the accused had several criminal cases against him.

Dr Sanjeev M. Patil, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), Bengaluru West division, had told ThePrint at the time that “Shahid was a local resident” who had “stabbed Chandru on his right thigh” and both did not know each other. He had added that “Shahid and his two friends have been apprehended and booked for murder”.

Soon after the death, however, news of a “Hindu Dalit man” (Chandru) being stabbed for “not speaking in Urdu” by a Muslim person started doing the rounds.

The narrative was initially endorsed by Jnanendra in his interactions with the media.

Pant, however, dismissed the allegations in a series of tweets and also identified Chandru as Christian.

Within an hour of Pant’s tweets, Jnanendra withdrew his allegations and reiterated the IPS officer’s account on Twitter.

Ravi, however, stuck to his version of the narrative and accused Pant of “pressuring the (Karnataka) home minister” and “lying” about the incident, as it could have led to communal clashes.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Karnataka, you’ve got a problem: Why BJP’s divisive politics can ruin Bengaluru’s unicorn party


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