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Kolkata: With barely 36 hours to go for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections in Bengal, the Election Commission of India (EC) has removed the superintendent of police of Cooch Behar district in north Bengal.

Cooch Behar and neighbouring Alipurduar are the two Lok Sabha seats that are to vote in the first phase on 11 April. The voting will start at 7 in the morning.

Sending an urgent communique to state chief secretary Malay De today noon, the EC stated that the SP of Cooch Behar, Abhishek Gupta, should be transferred by 5 pm today 9 April.

In his place, Amit Kumar Singh, who is now a special superintendent in the Intelligence Branch, has been appointed the new SP of Cooch Behar. EC has further directed the state government that Gupta must not be reassigned any election-related role.

Significantly, the poll panel did not ask for a panel of three officers from the state government before picking up the new SP. The EC had replaced the police commissioners of Kolkata, Bidhannagar, and SP of Birbhum, Diamond Habour in a similar fashion on 5 April night.

The EC move comes following allegations of bias and deliberate inactivity in enforcing law and order by Gupta.

The BJP candidate, Nishit Pramanik, had specifically complained to the poll panel after party workers caught a state armed police jawan roaming about outgoing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Cooch Behar on 7 April in army attire and without carrying his identity card.

Also, during a live election talk-show being aired from Cooch Behar by a Bengali news channel, Trinamool minister Rabindranath Ghosh and his supporters had tried to assault Pramanik. Trinamool workers had vandalised the venue as well.

Despite police being present at the spot, they did not take any strong steps to curb the hooliganism.