EC removes Mamata's security in-charge Vivek Sahay
New Delhi, March 15, 2021
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Sunday decided to remove West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's security in-charge Vivek Sahay and place him under suspension with immediate effect following Wednesday's incident in which she suffered "accidental" injury while campaigning in her Assembly constituency of Nandigram.
Thhe action against Sahay, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer posted as Director, Security, came after the ECI met earlier in the day on Sunday and discussed reports submitted by the West Bengal Chief Secretary as well as the joint report submitted by Ajay Nayak, the Commission's Special General Observer, and Vivek Dubai, the Special Police Observer on the incident at Nandigram leading to the injuries to Banerjee on March 10.
A press release from the ECI said the report of the Special Observers was based on annexures of reports of the District Magistrate (DM) and the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Purba Medinipur district as well as of the Returning Officer of the Nandigram Assembly Constituency.
Banerjee, who was standing on the footboard of her car, waving to people, as it waded through huge crowds which had gathered to see her, suffered "severe bone injuries" on her left foot and ankle as well as bruses and injurie son her shoulder, forearm and neck when the car door slammed shut suddenly.
Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress said she had been attacked as part of a conspiracy but the ECI's findings indicated that the door had slammed shut accidentally because of the surging crowds.
The Commission decided on the removal and suspension of Sahay and ordered that charges must be framed against him within a week for "grossly failing in discharge of his primary duty as Director Security to protect the Z+ protectee".
The release said the State Chief Secretary, in consultation with the Director General of Police (DGP), was authorised to post a suitable Director, Security, immediately following the extant procedure. The posting order has to be communicated to the Commission latest by 1300 hours today.
The release said that a committee of Chief Secretary and DGP shall identify within next three days the other proximate security personnel below Director Security,who failed in their duties to prevent the incident and protect the Z+ protecteeVVIP and take suitable action for their failure under intimation to the Commission by 1700 hours on March 17.
The release said that Smita Pandey, IAS: 2005, should be posted immediately as DM and DEO, Purba Medinipur in place of Vibhu Goel, IAS, who shall be transferred to a non-election post.
Pravin Prakash, IPS, SP Purba Medinipur shall also be placed under suspension immediately and charges shall be framed against him for major failure of "bandobast" (security arrangements).
Sunil Kumar Yadav, IPS:2009, shall be posted immediately as SP, Purba Medinipur, the Commission said.
The order also said that the Chief Secretary shall ensure that the investigation of the case related to the incident is completed and consequention action taken as per law in the next 15 days. A report in this regard shall be sent to the Commission by March 31.
The Commission further directed that since the security of star campaigners 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(s)," the release said.
In this regard, the Commission also decided to issue Instructions separately to the CEOs of all poll-bound States 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, guidelines and standard operating procedues (SoPs).
In addition, the Commission has also appointed Anil Kumar Sharma, a retired IPS officer of the 1984 (Punjab cadre, who served as DGP Intelligence, Punjab, as Special Police Observer for the Assembly elections in West Bengal.
He will be the second Special Police Observer, in addition to Vivek Dube, to observe the conduct of elections in West Bengal.