They stormed the police outpost; they smashed open the lock-up; they escaped with the most ‘wanted’ man in custody — all within a matter of minutes, on Wednesday evening.
A good 48 hours after a mob of 50-odd youth from a local club overran the Sarsuna police and freed Laltu Dolui, a sharpshooter charged with several murders, the police were struggling to save face and keep the lid on the bizarre incident, “unheard of in recent times”.
A battalion of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) was deployed to comb the area on Thursday and Friday in a bid to track down culprits of the outrageous ‘coup’.
Sanyasi Dolui and Hablu of the ‘rogue’ club Subeda Sangha were arrested on Friday after being identified as prominent faces in the crowd that had “attacked’’ the police outpost beyond Behala. Local residents said most male members of the club have fled the area.
Additional superintendent of police Rajesh Kumar said Laltu, owing allegiance to jailed crimelord Jishu Jain, was picked up from a hideout on Wednesday afternoon. He is an accused in half-a-dozen murder cases under the Thakurpukur and Behala police stations.
The police team, comprising an assistant sub-inspector and five constables, brought Laltu to the Sarsuna police outpost, which has the administrative building on one side of the street and the lock-up on the other. Two of the cops were guarding the lock-up.
As news of Laltu’s arrest spread, about 50 members of Subeda Sangha gathered outside the police outpost. Shouting slogans against the cops and demanding Laltu’s release, around two dozen of them stormed the police office. The rest attacked the lock-up.
The men in uniform were drastically outnumbered by the mob on a mission. They watched helplessly as Laltu was let out of the lock-up. The crowd disappeared as fast as it had appeared, with its prize catch.
The police then sent an SOS to Thakurpukur police station. Thakurpukur OC Chandan Neogi rushed to the spot, followed by DSP (town) Subhankar Chatterjee. The RAF, too, was called in immediately. The commandos combed the neighbouring Dhapapara area for the youths and Laltu.
The area remained tense on Friday with police jeeps constantly patrolling the narrow streets.
“There are no men here. They have left fearing police reprisal leaving the womenfolk to face the hostile cops,’’ moaned Sunita Dolui, a middle-aged woman of the area.
Sources said state director- general of police D.C. Vajpai convened a meeting with senior officers on Friday evening.
“The police top brass has taken serious exception to the manner in which club members attacked the Sarsuna lock-up and whisked such a dreaded criminal away,” said an officer. Vajpai is known to have ordered an inquiry into the incident that raises uncomfortable questions about the ability of police outposts to cope with a crisis.