Loba axe looms on cop

Monalisa Chaudhuri

Calcutta, Nov. 8: Basab Talukdar, the deputy inspector-general (Burdwan range), is likely to be removed after "word reached" the chief minister's office (CMO) that he had been informed about the police operation plan in Loba, home department sources said.

Hours after the police operation in Dubrajpur's Loba on Tuesday to seize an earth-mover from villagers who had held on to it following a land dispute, Birbhum superintendent of police Hrishikesh Meena was asked to go on leave.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee said yesterday that the police directorate at Writers' Buildings had not been informed about the operation.

The Telegraph reported today that Meena had briefed Talukdar and IG (western range) Gangeswar Singh, to whom the Birbhum SP reports, about the operation. Meena had also got their clearance for the operation, the sources said.

"DIG, Burdwan range, Basab Talukdar is likely to be removed. It has been proposed that he be transferred as DIG, Eastern Frontier Rifles," a CMO official said.

The official said that the police directorate at Writers', mainly the DGP and the ADG (law and order), was under the impression that Meena had acted on his own. However, on "learning" that Meena's superiors had been briefed beforehand, the CMO proposed to the home department that action be taken against Talukdar.

When contacted by this newspaper yesterday, Talukdar had said: "The SP had informed me the afternoon before about the arrangements he made for raiding that area."

The home department sources said that after the violence in Dubrajpur, Meena had once again informed Talukdar and Singh about the police's clash with villagers.

"Strangely, both the DIG and the IG asked the SP to directly inform ADG (law and order) Surajit Kar Purakayastha. When the SP called up Kar Purakayastha, he was asked why he hadn't informed him beforehand," a source said.

The sources said Meena had told Kar Purakayastha that he had carried out the raid with the permission of Talukdar and Singh.

Meena was then asked by Kar Purakayastha to send the details of the incident through a text message, according to the sources. The SP had then forwarded the same text message the DIG, IG, ADG (law and order) and DGP Naparajit Mukherjee. The sources said Meena also spoke to Mukherjee over phone.

A preliminary probe by Singh has revealed that most of the policemen that raided Loba only had lathis. Only five personnel were armed. Two of them were carrying Insas rifles and three others had .303s.

The sources said four magazines, two for each of the Insas rifles, and the bullets for the .303 rifles were "found unused", meaning there was no firing by the police. "Three rounds of teargas shells, five rounds of rubber bullets and 10 rounds of stun grenades were used that day," a source said.

The arms carried to the spot were endorsed by the DIG and the IG on the condition that the police would open fire only on orders from the SP, the sources added.