The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pellet-spray scare for police

Three days before Republic Day, the police got a scare after a gang of criminals sprayed pellets at a Radio Flying Squad (RFS) jeep on the Maidan, before speeding away towards Kidderpore, early on Thursday. Nearly 40 pellets were recovered from the spot by the police.

The sergeant and four armed constables manning the RFS jeep failed to realise that the criminals had smashed the flashlight of their vehicle and cracked the windscreen, in their bid to escape. The policemen chased the van for a few hundred metres, before giving up.

Deputy commissioner of police (south) Kuldip Singh, who is heading a high-level probe into the incident, told Metro that he would “get to the bottom of the case”. The incident occurred exactly a year after the American Center attack, which saw five policemen die without firing a single shot, when motorcycle-borne goons sprayed the Chowringhee Road entrance. But senior police officers refused to read much into Thursday’s incident. “By the time they realised that their windscreen had been smashed, it was too late. Heavy fog and the speed of the van made it impossible for the policemen to fire back,” Singh added. “Besides, these pellets don’t kill anyone.”

Investigations have so far revealed that around 3.20 am, a few policemen, sitting inside the RFS jeep on the Maidan, stepped out when they spotted a van speeding towards Kidderpore bridge.

As soon as two of the five policemen, armed with muskets, alighted from the jeep, the criminals in the van fired at them from improvised arms, and fled into the fog. The policemen chased the vehicle till Kidderpore bridge, but failed to intercept it. All police stations in the area were alerted to trace the green van. “We are now looking at various aspects, like the angle of fire and the circumstantial evidence,” Singh added.

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