The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sergeant fights for life, rogue cops surrender

If you haven’t been here and seen for yourself Bapi’s good deeds, you will never understand what we are going through now. For us, Bapi Sen (left) is a messiah

Tarun Chakraborty neighbour and friend

Calcutta, Jan. 2: As traffic sergeant Bapi Sen lay “deeply unconscious” in the intensive care unit of a hospital here today, three of the five eve-teaser cops who battered him on New Year’s eve surrendered. The two others, arrested overnight, were remanded in judicial custody.

The three — Sridam Bauri, Mujibur Rehman and Sekhar Bhusan Mitra — gave themselves up in Bankshall Court amid unprecedented security and secrecy. Constables Madhusudhan Chakraborty and Pijush Goswami were rounded up yesterday.

Thirty-two-year-old Bapi was beaten up by the five constables — aged between 22 and 24 — when he protested against their teasing of an unidentified woman on Nirmal Chandra Street in central Calcutta.

Boltu, the driver of the taxi in which the constables were travelling, and his helper Mewalal told investigators that one of the cops had hit Bapi on the head with a beer bottle.

Earlier, police had said Bapi had tripped head first on the tram tracks and fell unconscious, a position that contrasted sharply with the statement made by the driver and the helper.

The contradiction gave rise to the impression that a section of the force was seeking to put a “different perspective” on the crime.

But the lead provided to the investigators that Bapi was hit with a beer bottle makes the case stronger.

“Boltu and I repeatedly requested the constables not to drink in public. But they did not listen. They whistled at the New Year’s eve crowd on the streets as we drove through Lindsay Street, Park Street, Free School Street, Bowbazar and Chowringhee. They had a fight with the young man (Bapi), who stopped us on Nirmal Chandra Street. During the fight, one of the constables hit him (Bapi) on the head with a beer bottle and he collapsed on the tram tracks,” Mewalal told interrogators.

Then, sensing trouble, the constables quickly got back into the taxi and asked the driver to speed away, he said.

At the Calcutta Medical Research Institute, where the traffic sergeant has been admitted, members of the medical board set up to guide the treatment assessed Bapi’s condition in a string of meetings through the day.

“The maximum injury is to the brain stem. However, his heartbeat is regular and this gives us hope against hope,” said Mala Chattopadhyay, assistant medical superintendent. “We have seen cases where patients have come out of a two-month coma.”

In the hospital lobby, Bapi’s elder brothers, Anup and Joydeb, a dozen friends and at least a hundred of their neighbours at Parnasree in Behala waited in agony.

“Bapi never backed out of a challenge and we hope he will come out with flying colours this time also,” said one.

Bapi’s wife Soma is struggling to cope with the knowledge that doctors have all but declared her husband dead. Bapi has two sons, Dobo (6) and Dingo (2).

“The doctors do not hold out much hope,” said Anup Sen.

At Parnasree, neighbours Bapi had helped were praying for a miracle. Among them were Robin Bhattacharya, a first-year chemistry student, and 72-year-old Moyna Bibi, a slumdweller.

Somen Mukherjee, 14, was pacing up and down the road outside Bapi’s residence. A few months ago, while returning home for lunch, Bapi had spotted Somen crying for help from the lake nearby. “Somen was drowning when Bapi plunged into the lake and saved him,” recalled Abir Mitra, a local youth.

Moyna Bibi said: “It is only due to Bapi’s efforts that we are getting two decent meals a day.” He had put in a word for her son, Asraful, who got a job in a car dealer’s showroom in Behala.

Robin had come to Bapi’s house for his regular chemistry lesson today unaware of the misfortune that had struck his “Sir”.

“I did not have money to buy books. He even gave me money for my admission,” Robin said.

The five friends, who were with Bapi at the time of the assault, avoided speaking to the media. Bapi’s agitated neighbours blamed them for not coming to his aid when he was being beaten up.

After arresting two of the constables, the police exerted pressure, through intermediaries, on the three others absconding — Bauri, Rehman and Mitra —to surrender.

Around 2 pm, with a battery of lawyers in tow, the three constables surrendered. The policemen’s colleagues and friends battled with the media and photographers to keep them at bay.

A total of 28 policemen threw a security ring around the three constables. They were taken through the backdoor of the court with their faces covered to avoid identification.

“They may have done something wrong but they are our colleagues and we will try to protect them,’’ a reserve force constable in plainclothes said.

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