New Delhi: Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Satyarth Anirudh Pankaj, who recently made several arrests in an alleged scam linked to irregularities in the recruitment of government school teachers, has been removed from his post as the Prayagraj district police chief.
According to a report in NDTV, the order notifying his removal came late on Monday and triggered a controversy in Uttar Pradesh. The opposition in the state has claimed that Pankaj was being “punished” for making arrests related to an alleged scam regarding the recruitment of 69,000 government primary school teachers in the state.
The district police had, last week, arrested 11 people including those accused of running a cheating racket linked to the recruitment of government primary school teachers in Uttar Pradesh. The recruitment had been publicised as an achievement by the Yogi Adityanath government, indicating a boost in the employment opportunities in the state.
K.L. Patel, an influential businessman and politician who reportedly runs several private educational institutions in Prayagraj, was among those arrested.
Congress party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in a statement on Twitter, questioned the timing of Pankaj’s transfer. “At a time when he unravelled a major scam, his departure should not affect investigations. Whatever the reason, such officers should get full support from the public who do their duty with full honesty and without fear,” she said.
… आपको हमारी शुभकामनाएँ। यह विश्वास है कि जहां भी आपकी ड्यूटी होगी वहाँ आप सच्चाई और प्रशासन की पारदर्शिता के लिए काम करेंगे। 2/2
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) June 16, 2020
Gandhi was reacting to a tweet by Pankaj posted on SSP Prayagraj’s Twitter handle after news of his transfer broke. “I will always be grateful for the love and trust given by the people of Prayagraj while holding the post of SSP Prayagraj,” he said.
एस एस पी प्रयागराज पद पर रहते हुए प्रयागराज की जनता ने जो प्यार और भरोसा दिया उसका मैं सदैव आभारी रहूँगा। आपका यह भरोसा पुलिस पर सदैव बना रहे यही कामना है। प्रयागराजवासियों को अशेष शुभकामनायें।💐💐💐💐💐
–सत्यार्थ अनिरुद्ध पंकज
— SSP PRAYAGRAJ (@PrayagrajSsp) June 15, 2020
Congress leader Jitin Prasada also questioned Pankaj’s transfer and said, “The police officer who busted the teaching scam, SSP Prayagraj, has been removed and put in the wait-list. Does the government want to demoralise the officers and want to save the culprits who are involved in the scam?”
उ.प्र.में शिक्षक भर्ती में फर्ज़ीवाड़े का खुलासा करने वाले प्रयागराज के पुलिस अधीक्षक सत्यार्थ पंकज को वहाँ से हटाकर प्रतीक्षा सूची में डालकर क्या सरकार ईमानदार अधिकारियों का मनोबल तोड़ना चाहती है? क्या सरकार फर्जीवाड़े में शामिल लोगों को बचाना चाहती है? https://t.co/M6qjuCP1zM
— Jitin Prasada जितिन प्रसाद (@JitinPrasada) June 16, 2020
Pankaj, who was a 2010 batch IPS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, was in August 2019, posted as Prayagraj’s police chief. He has not been given a new posting yet.
In an unrelated development, Pankaj was admitted to a COVID-19 suspect ward in Prayagraj on Tuesday morning, after one of his security personnel tested positive for the coronavirus. The Prayagraj administration, in a statement, said that the police chief had been hospitalised as he is “a high-risk contact”.