A year-and-a-half after handpicking additional DGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu to head the Special Task Force (STF) to eradicate drugs, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Saturday replaced him with DGP (Human Rights) Mohammad Mustafa.
Sidhu has been appointed to the post of Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister.
The orders to this effect were issued by the Home Department and Chief Secretary on Saturday evening. Sources said Sidhu lost his post because of friction between him and DGP Suresh Arora. Differences between them had come out in open when former Moga SSP Raj Jit Singh had accused Sidhu of implicating him in a drugs case.
Mustafa, as the STF chief, is back in active policing after 12 years. His wife Razia Sultana is a minister in Punjab. Mustafa will continue to be DGP (Human Rights) too. The state government has also decided to merge Narcotics Bureau with the STF. Earlier, it was a parallel body.
According to sources, Mustafa’s new assignment follows a “word” by the high command after numerous complaints by Punjab Congress leaders that the state police was perceived to be pandering to Akalis. The high command had reportedly told Amarinder to ensure that the next DGP was not an officer with “Akali leanings”.
Also, Mustafa had been seeking “adjustment” on the plea that he had been away from mainstream policing for a long time. With the incumbent DGP retiring on September 30, Mustafa is the eligible number two. The state is yet to hear from the Centre on whether Arora would be given an extension as the state has sent a representation. The STF chief will now report to the DGP. Sidhu, considered an upright and effective police officer, was directly reporting to CM. A Punjab-cadre IPS officer, Sidhu was on deputation in Chhattisgarh for anti-naxal operations when Amarinder got him relieved prematurely from the Centre to head STF.
with the Express Morning Briefing