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Hobbled hunt with sketchy details

Calcutta, Jan. 5: Fair, slim, about 20 years old and around 5’3” in her shoes.

That is the description of Calcutta police’s most wanted at the moment. A day after police appealed to the young woman for whom traffic sergeant Bapi Sen took on five drunk constables on Nirmal Chandra Chunder Street on New Year’s eve to come forward and help them, she failed to show up.

Bapi spent another day on the life-support system as Calcutta police tried — without much success — to hunt her out to bolster their case against the five cops, who all but killed Bapi when he stopped them from harassing her.

The board of doctors overseeing Bapi’s fight for life at the Calcutta Medical Research Institute today said it would observe him for “72 more hours” on the life-support system.

Around the same time, a few kilometres away in Bowbazar police station, officials distributed at least two dozen copies of a sketch of the unidentified woman — pieced together by artists engaged by the police — to their colleagues in other areas.

The artists spent most of Saturday piecing together a “rough profile” of the woman — who was riding pillion with a friend. The profile was etched out with the descriptions given by the constables, the driver and helper of the taxi in which they were travelling and Bapi’s friends.

But officials were defensive about the sketch. “Some discrepancies” in the descriptions provided by the 11 witnesses — including Bapi’s friends who were too “shocked to react” when they saw him being clobbered on the tram tracks of central Calcutta — have led officials to apprehend that the “painstaking and laborious” sketch might not resemble its subject “very accurately”.

“We are taking an outside chance to trace the girl and then the boy,” a senior police official said. “It is not foolproof, but it’s the best we can manage in the circumstances,” he added.

Officials of three discotheques in the city, which the young woman and her companion might have visited before their encounter with the rogue constables, were also contacted and sleuths “asked around” among “several regular disco-hoppers” last night to elicit “any” information about them. All the efforts proved unsuccessful.

Police officials explained that they believed that the girl and her companion could have visited a disco before they were accosted by the five constables — Madhusudhan Chakraborty, Pijush Goswami, Mujibur Rahman, Sridam Bauri and Sekhar Bhusan Mitra — out on a “joyride” after reporting present at their Bowbazar barracks.

“We have already slapped Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code (attempt to murder) on the constables,” deputy commissioner (central) Zulfiquar Hasan said. “We are not pressing the eve-teasing charges as punishment for attempted murder is much harsher,” he added.

At CMRI, Bapi — oblivious to the frenetic goings-on surrounding him — continued to be in coma. Doctors continued their evaluation (described as “routine”) but seemed to have given up on retrieving him “barring a miracle”.

Neuro-surgeon Ajay Agarwal said Bapi was in a condition that “offers very small room for improvement. We don’t have much to do at this stage”. Three external experts brought to the CMRI over the past three days by Bapi’s family shared the CMRI board’s opinion, he added.

Family and friends, however, continued to hope and pray. “We will go on hoping as long as his heart beats,” elder brother Anup Sen said. Close friend Bapi Haldar said he had seen “brain-dead people coming to after 10 years”.

Doctors refused to share the optimism. “The case of this brave young man is one of the most unfortunate I have come across in my career that has seen quite a few Lazarus-like cases,” a CMRI doctor said.

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