The Punjab government on Saturday appointed VK Bhawra as the new Director-General of Police.
Mr Bhawra was picked from a list of three candidates offered by the Union Public Service Commission; others on the list were Dinkar Gupta and Prabodh Kumar.
The appointment – the third in around 100 days of Chief Minister Charanjit Channi’s brief tenure – comes shortly before the Election Commission announces dates for next month’s polls.
It also comes as Punjab Police (and the state government) finds itself in the crosshairs of the centre over the security lapses involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s convoy this week.
Outgoing Punjab DGP Siddharth Chattopadhyaya and other senior officers have all been summoned by a Union Home Ministry team that is inquiring into circumstances that led to the Prime Minister’s motorcade being held up on a flyover in Ferozepur district for 20 minutes.
Viresh Kumar Bhawra will have a tenure of two years (minimum) and replaces Mr Chattopadhyaya – who himself was only appointed in December -as the Congress-ruled state’s top cop.
Mr Chattopadhyaya was given charge after his predecessor Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota was replaced.
Mr Sahota’s appointment in September had triggered (yet another) row between Navjot Sidhu, chief of the Congress’ state unit, and the Chief Minister, who had selected Mr Sahota for the job.
Mr Sidhu – whose feud with Amarinder Singh led to him quitting the party to set up his outfit and ally with the BJP – made no secret of his dislike for Mr Sahota and then-Advocate-General APS Deol.
He was believed to want Mr Chattopadhyaya to become the state’s top cop.
Mr Sidhu wanted Mr Deol and Mr Sahota – both appointed by Chief Minister Channi – to be sacked over the 2015 sacrilege and police firing case.
APS Deol had represented two accused cops and Iqbal Sahota was the head of one of the SITs formed by the then Akali Dal government, which Mr Sidhu has blamed for failing to ensure justice.
In November, bowing to incessant pressure from Mr Sidhu, Chief Minister Channi had dismissed Mr Deol as the state’s top lawyer.