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Govt starves, police feast

Berhampore, Oct. 11: No matter what the mandarins at Writers’ Buildings advocate, the police here have flung the notion of austerity and economy in spending to the four winds.

Instead of the tea, coffee and biscuits prescribed for meetings and conferences in the government’s don’t-do-it-now circular, the forces here had a grand feast at their monthly crime conference yesterday.

The only difference, this time, was that the usual biryani, chaanp fare was replaced by Basmati rice, hilsa, daal, a vegetable curry, mattar paneer, curd and sweets washed down with crates of packaged drinking water.

Each plate cost more than Rs 100. “The police are not famed for paying up their dues, but I get my payment from them in time,” said the man who supplied the cooked food to the force.

Every month, the superintendent summons officers from the 26 police stations and sub-divisions of Murshidabad. The officers congregate at the police guesthouse, Swapnaneer (meaning dream house in Bangla), for the meeting at 10 am.

“It is a fact that we all have lunch during the conference, but the money does not come from the government. Each of us pays from our pockets. As we cannot have the food on the roadside, the guesthouse is used,” said district superintendent of police Virendra.

Even if the superintendent paid little importance to the feast, a popular snack ‘bar’ owner and caterer here acknowledged that every month there was an order of 60 to 65 plates of “top quality” food, which costs close to Rs 7,000, for the taking.

“The payment is usually made by an inspector from the police lines. I do not know whether the money is from government or private funds. All I care for is that I am paid,” the caterer said.

At a time when the chief minister himself is travelling in ordinary air-conditioned compartments instead of fancy saloons, the superintendent of police here has three cars at his disposal — a Toyota Qualis, a Tata Sumo and an Ambassador.

Not to be outdone, the circle inspector of Berhampore uses an air-conditioned Sumo and the town sub-inspector a Maruti Omni.

Circle inspector Shyamal Sarkar, however, denied that Berhampore police station had hired the cars for their use.

Virendra said the police are yet to receive any circular from the government. “The other departments have received orders restricting the hiring of cars, but the police, especially with the Pujas now, cannot do without the extra cars,” he said.

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