In a freak incident, sub-inspector Asish Haldar died after being hit in the chest by a sweeper near Ballygunge station late on Wednesday. Haldar was employed with the Reserve Force of the Alipore Police Lines.
The sweeper, Uttam Haldar, 32, is absconding. According to D.K. Ganguly, superintendent of police, South 24-Parganas, Asish was at a hooch den on Wednesday night, where he picked a quarrel with Uttam.
The quarrel led to a scuffle, in which Uttam landed a blow on Asish’s chest. The policeman slumped to the ground. Bystanders carried him to his B.B. Chatterjee Street residence, in the Kasba area.
Around midnight, Asish developed a severe pain in the chest. His wife called in a doctor, who advised immediate hospitalisation. Asish was removed to the Calcutta Police Hospital in Bhowanipore late in the night. He died on Thursday morning.
“Asish Haldar was a regular drinker and was not keeping good health. Besides, he did not have a good track record and was suspended on a number of occasions,” said Ganguly.
As soon as news of the death spread, Uttam disappeared from his house near Ballygunge station. A police team that went in search of him drew a blank. Even the members of his family could not shed light on his whereabouts.
A railway official at Ballygunge station said that the employees at the station would assist the police to locate Uttam. “We are, however, not sure whether the incident occurred while Uttam was on duty,” he added.
Asish’s frequent visits to the hooch den and the brawl that killed him have left senior police officers red-faced. They feel it is a sordid tale and has tarnished the image of the force. “We have to ensure that policemen do not take to addictions and illegal activities. The incident has come as an embarrassment for us,” said superintendent of police Ganguly.
Investigation into Asish’s death, however, was delayed as there was a debate whether the case fell under the jurisdiction of the Government Railway Police (GRP) or the state police. Superintendent Ganguly intervened and ruled that the state police would probe the case, with assistance from the GRP.
“If investigations prove that Asish Haldar died due to the blow by Uttam, we will seek the GRP’s assistance to round him up,” said Ganguly.