Kolkata: Three IAS officers and an IPS officer have been transferred in the last 24 hours in West Bengal after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed dissatisfaction over their handling of the Covid-19 crisis and the lockdown.
The transfer order of the IAS officers — Principal Secretary, Food and Supplies Manoj Agarwal, and District Magistrates (DM) of West Burdwan, Shashank Shethi, and Darjeeling Deepap Priya P. — were issued Thursday.
On Friday, Banerjee issued the transfer order of Ajeet Singh Yadav, Superintendent of Police (SP), Murshidabad district.
Mamata unhappy with ration distribution
Banerjee during a televised meeting Thursday at the state secretariat, Nabanna, said she was “extremely unhappy” with the food distribution department and the way ration shops are being managed.
Sources in the government said this comes after Banerjee received reports in the past week of beneficiaries not receiving the allotted food grains — rice and wheat.
In some cases, even the ruling Trinamool Congress local leaders, including councillors and MLAs, were accused of taking food grains away from the designated ration shops by intimidating the shop owners. The local leaders were also accused of distributing the government ration to the people just to show that they are helping them out amid this crisis.
Banerjee had issued several warnings to the food distribution department earlier and also to her party’s local leaders against such mismanagement of government ration.
On Thursday she finally ordered the transfer of the department’s secretary Agarwal, who has been sent “on compulsory waiting”, meaning he does not have any posting now.
Agarwal has been replaced by Parwez Ahmed Siddiqui.
Influx in Siliguri, lockdown breach reasons for transfer
Darjeeling DM Deepap Priya P. has been brought back to Nabanna as ‘officer on special duty’ at the Home department.
According to sources, Deepap was transferred as the influx of people from other states to Siliguri, which is a tri-junction of international borders — Bhutan, Nepal and China — could not be brought under control.
Moreover, a woman, who tested positive for Covid-19 in an area in Siliguri and later died, infected at least nine members of her family and later it became a Covid-19 cluster in Siliguri.
The new district magistrate for Darjeeling is now Ponnambalam S.
West Burdwan DM Shethi has been appointed as the ‘officer on special duty’ to the chief secretary.
According to sources, Shethi was transferred after there were reports of people violating the lockdown in the district. Sources added Shethi was replaced by Purnendu Manjhi.
SP of Murshidabad transferred
Yadav has been posted as the SP, Counter Insurgency Force, in Durgapur. He has been replaced by K. Sabari Raj Kumar.
Sources said Yadav’s transfer comes a week after a huge gathering outside a mosque at the time of Friday prayers snowballed into a major controversy.
The Mamata Banerjee government was criticised for allowing Muslims to gather outside a mosque amid the lockdown.
A senior government official also said that Yadav was transferred as Banerjee was angry after hundreds of daily wagers, including women and children, came out on the streets in Domkal to protest against lack of food supplies.
Meanwhile, in a televised meeting with DMs, SPs and departmental secretaries Friday, Banerjee has asked them to seal the inter-state borders and also keep a vigil on the international border entry points.