The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the multi- crore cattle smuggling scam in West Bengal have found that police officers were frequently transferred in Birbhum district from 2015 and 2017 when Anubrata Mondal as the all-powerful Trinamool Congress district president there.
The two- year period, as per records of the CBI, was the peak period of cattle smuggling, where Birbhum was the principal route for cattle smuggling. Surprisingly, during that same period as many as 12 district police superintendents were replaced at frequent intervals.
The same two- year period was the tenure of Satish Kumar, arrested by agencies in connection with the cattle smuggling scam, as the commandant of Border Security Force (BSF)'s 36th battalion deputed to the India-Bangladesh bordering district of Murshidabad, traditionally deemed as the epicentre of cattle smuggling to Bangladesh.
The CBI sleuths are now trying to find out an answer on whether these three factors were merely coincidental or where there are links between these three factors.
Members of the Indian Police Service (IPS) Association pointed out that generally an IPS officer, especially district ones, are given a posting for a minimum of two years.
"In exceptional cases, the transfer period can be minimised just as the Election Commission of India orders for transfer of bureaucrats and police officers before any Lok Sabha or Assembly election. But transfer of 12 district police superintendents during a period of just two years is something really unprecedented. Agreed that in the period between 2015 and 2017, there was the 2016 West Bengal Assembly polls, where the Election Commission might have implemented certain transfers. Still, the transfer rate cannot be so frequent," said a senior member of the IPS Association on strict condition of anonymity.
CBI sources said that there can be two reasons for such frequent transfers of district police superintendents during that brief period. The first possibility is to keep the police administration in Birbhum confused and unstable by frequent transfers, since a newly transferred district police chief always takes some time to understand the crime- model in that particular district.
The second possibility is to keep on shuffling the district police superintendents; only someone with unquestionable obedience is available to give the cattle smuggling a smooth running, sources added.