Kolkata: The West Bengal government has appointed a nodal officer to ensure coordination between the West Bengal Police and the Kolkata Police, creating a new post in the department.
Santanu Sinha Biswas, the officer-in-charge (OC) of Kalighat police station in south Kolkata, has been made the nodal officer after an order was issued in this regard by the state’s home and hill affairs department on 26 August.
Biswas has been tasked with coordinating between West Bengal Police and Kolkata Police with regard to welfare and grievance-related matters.
The appointment, however, has raised questions in the police fraternity, with many saying a senior officer should have been selected for the new post.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s residence is located in the jurisdiction of Kalighat police station and the person occupying the Kalighat OC post has always been among the police officers considered closest to the CM.
The order came days before 1 September, which Banerjee has announced as ‘Police Day’.
Speaking to ThePrint, Biswas said, “Madam (Mamata) has given a responsibility. She would define the role tomorrow (Tuesday) during the programme for Police Day. We are waiting for her guidance.”
Asked about the Police Welfare Board, Biswas said: “The board has always been there. But chief minister madam has restructured the board and brought it to prominence.”
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Importance of Kalighat OC post
According to the order issued to the Bengal DGP and the Kolkata Police commissioner: “The issues relating to development, welfare and grievance redressal of officers and men in the police forces have been engaging the attention of authorities for quite some time now.”
It added, “Due to the current pandemic situation, the issues are gaining further urgent attention. In furtherance of an array of schemes, activities and measures undertaken, it is felt that such development, welfare and grievance redressal activities need to be further coordinated between West Bengal Police and Kolkata Police.”
The order also said other senior officers may be engaged for such activities and they will form a state committee under the leadership of senior officers. Similar committees will also be formed at the level of commissionerates and district police.
Over the past nine years, Kalighat OC has remained the most important posting under the Kolkata Police. It is primarily because of its proximity to Banerjee’s residence.
The Kalighat OC is believed to be the most powerful and influential among all OCs across police stations in Kolkata.
But questions were raised about the selection of a junior officer for such an important assignment.
‘He will have no role in policy making’
Asked about Biswas’s appointment as the nodal officer, a senior IPS officer told ThePrint he “is not a part of administrative set-up”.
“He will have no role in policy making. He will coordinate between the two forces and raise the issues the forces face routinely. He will be a messenger for the forces.”
A second senior police officer said: “The government should have chosen a senior officer for such a position. But it is the government’s discretion and we should not comment on this.”
According to the order, Covid pandemic has made things even more critical for police officers who work at police stations.
Nearly 6,000 police personnel were infected while on duty in the state and 18 officers have died of the infection so far, Banerjee said during an administrative meeting at the state secretariat, Nabanna, last week.
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