A senior poll official deputed to Odisha for the ongoing elections was suspended by the Election Commission of India (ECI) on charges of “dereliction of duty” in connection with “SPG protectees” — a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The poll officer had searched the chopper that the PM was travelling in leading to a delay of 20 minutes in his departure. As per the ECI order, IAS officer Mohammed Mohsin of the Karnataka cadre has been suspended for “actions contrary to the instructions of the Commission concerning SPG protectees” on April 16 — the same day SPG protectee PM Modi paid a visit to Sambalpur for an election rally. The Prime Minister is an SPG protectee.
“The prime minister had started addressing the rally. Mohsin approached the SPG stationed by the helicopter and requested a search. SPG demanded a document authorising him to do so. The search was allowed, however it delayed the PM’s departure by 20 minutes,” a senior Odisha government official familiar with the matter was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
“As far as I know, General Observer (Mohsin) only observes and reports to the ECI. He has no authority to order an inspection,” the officer added.
Mohsin currently serves as secretary in Karnataka’s Backward Class Welfare Department, and is deployed as General Observer starting from April 4 to May 23 for four Assembly constituencies which falls under Sambalpur Lok Sabha — Rengali, Kuchinda, Rairakhol and Sambalpur, the EC website says.
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As per the order, Mohsin is deployed “under the supervision and control of the Commission”.
The order of suspension of Mohsin was issued after reports from the DIG (Sambalpur), District Election Officer (Sambalpur) and Chief Electoral Officer (Odisha).
The three authorities and Mohsin are yet to make a comment on the issue, the publication says.
The EC order came after a video, which is said to have been shot on Monday, showed Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan in a heated argument with police officials who were reportedly part of a flying squad in Odisha that had asked to check his luggage.
On the other hand, another video on Tuesday went viral which showed a flying squad inspecting Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s helicopter in Rourkela. The Chief Minister can be seen calmly as the cabin of the helicopter is being examined.