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Grudge calls cloud hunt for mystery pillion-rider

The telephone at the Lalbazar police headquarters hasn’t stopped ringing since police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty issued a public appeal urging the woman for whom Bapi Sen laid down his life on the night of December 31, 2002, to come forward as a key witness in the case. But the phones have been ringing for all the wrong reasons, with mischief-mongers trying to use the police to harass women they have a score to settle with.

“No one has come up with any information that can help us locate the woman,” said Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner of police, detective department, on Monday. “The callers, mostly from public phone booths, are not willing to disclose their names. They give us the name of ‘the woman’ and her address, before slamming the phone down. On investigation, we find that the callers have named women against whom they bear some grudge,” said a sub-inspector of the detective department’s homicide wing.

For instance, officers on the Bapi Sen case had received a call the day after the commissioner’s appeal was published in almost all city papers. “After tracing the name and the address provided by the caller, we landed up at the door of a girl in her mid-twenties, who had been home all night on December 31, with her parents,” said an officer.

Another woman named by an anonymous caller was not even in Calcutta on New Year’s eve. “We later learnt that one of her former boyfriends had called us with an intention of harassing the woman,” said the officer.

And it’s not just the detective department’s homicide department that is facing the brunt of these bogus calls. The phones are ringing right from the Lalbazar OC control room to Bowbazar police station. “As soon as we receive such calls, we refer them to the department or officer concerned,” said an official of the OC control room.

And phone calls are not the sole source of such information. Unidentified Calcuttans have been dropping off letters in Lalbazar, giving sketchy details of ‘the woman’.

But the police are still hoping that the mystery woman will turn up. “The woman has not come forward yet, but that does not mean she will never contact us. Maybe, after a few days, when things settle down, she will contact us,” said Soumen Mitra.

Sandhi Mukherjee, special additional commissioner of police, traffic, meanwhile announced on Monday that National Insurance Company will forward a cheque clearing Bapi Sen’s dues to the police commissioner on Tuesday. “We will then hand it over to Bapi’s wife,” Mukherjee said.

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