Kolkata: A defiant West Bengal government on Friday decided not to send the state's chief secretary and police chief to New Delhi in compliance with Union Home Ministry's summons in the wake of a mob attack on BJP chief J P Nadda's convoy, the latest flashpoint between the state and the Centre.
Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay wrote to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, saying he has been directed to request to "dispense with the presence of the state officials" in the meeting convened on December 14, an obvious indication that he was just obeying the state government's order.
The MHA had on Friday summoned Bandopadhyay and DGP Virendra asking them to present themselves on December 14 for an explanation on the law and order situation in the state, following Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar's report on the attack on Nadda's convoy by alleged supporters of the ruling TMC.
"Kindly refer to the letter whereby the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police, Government of West Bengal have been requested to attend a meeting on December 14, 2020, at 12.15 PM in your chamber to discuss the law and order situation in the State of West Bengal including the incidents regarding certain Z-category protectees," Bandopadhyay wrote in his letter.
"While further reports are being obtained and compiled, in the circumstances, I am directed to request you to kindly dispense with the presence of the State officials in the meeting, considering that the State Government is already addressing this issue with utmost seriousness," he said in his two-page letter.
The top bureaucrat of the state said as requested by the Union Home Secretary on December 10, the state government had indeed made elaborate arrangements for security coverage of the protectees on Thursday.
"The incidents regarding Z-category protectees are already being examined at our end. The West Bengal Police had provided a bulletproof car and a pilot to Shri J.P. Nadda, which was in addition to the escort (vehicle by State, personnel by CRPF) and PSOs (CRPF) he is entitled as a Z- category protectee," he wrote.
The DIG (Police) of the range was stationed in the area to supervise the arrangements personally. At the same time, 4 Additional SPS, 8 DySPs, 14 Inspectors, 70 Sls/AS1s, 40 RAF personnel, 259 constables and 350 members of auxiliary forces were deployed on the route and at the venue at Diamond Harbour, the letter maintained.
"While the central protectees had their own central protection arrangements, these arrangements were made over and above the same from the end of the State," Bandopadhyay wrote, while seeking to be excused from attending the meeting.
Referring to the battery of cars with the convoy of Nadda, Bandopadhyay said it made the "situation unwieldy".
"Because typically, security authorities are to handle a protectee convoy of a few vehicles only, and not with/in the presence of so many other vehicles which got tagged to the convoy travelling together," he wrote.
Noting that three cases have been registered in connection with Thursday's violence, including two for vandalism, he said, seven persons have already been arrested.