The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Assault death leaves force face battered

l“Those responsible for his death should not be spared…’’

l“We have failed in our efforts to sensitise our force…”

Rage and regret ran through the ranks on Monday, after Bapi Sen breathed his last.

A sergeant at Lalbazar, waiting to lay a wreath on the hearse carrying his former colleague, could not conceal his anger: “Those five constables responsible for his death should be lynched. Many constables of the reserved force and armed force are bad elements.”

There were grumbles of no action having been taken against some rogue constables earlier. A sergeant, who was Bapi’s batchmate and roommate during training in 1991, recounted an incident when he had spotted two constables indulging in “indecent behaviour’’ and complained to his officers. “But, strangely, the constables were let off with just a warning.’’

Several senior officers in Lalbazar admitted that the Bapi Sen case had blown the lid off the rot that had set in. “The force has been put through several courses in psychology, behaviour and social values in the past two years… But this incident has put us back by several years and proved that we have been unsuccessful in sensitising our police force,’’ admitted a senior officer.

The fatal attack on Bapi Sen by fellow-members of the force has also put paid to police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty’s much-touted move to create a more “people-friendly force”. Sources said he had involved several non-governmental organisations in the city in a bid to improve the image of the force. Now, all that seems to have come a cropper.

Pronob Kumar Ghosh, secretary, Sergeants Forum, Calcutta Police, admitted on Monday that the people seem to have lost their respect for the force. “We must launch a proper public relations exercise to improve matters before it is too late,” he warned.

Sections of Lalbazar, however, tried to term the Bapi saga as an “isolated incident”. Additional commissioner Kiriti Sengupta said: “There are 26,000 policemen in Calcutta and not everybody is like the five accused constables. And our message to the force has always been that we will deal firmly with them if they indulge in any criminal or illegal act.”

Some officers pointed to a larger malaise. Special additional commissioner of police Sandhi Mukherjee said: “There is a general degeneration in society, of which the police are a part.”

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