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Lawyer cries foul at police

Behrampore, Feb. 15: The local legal fraternity is in turmoil after alleged police brutality on a lawyer exposed rifts among the professionals and the president of the district bar association resigned on the ground of illness.

Debashis Banerjee, the lawyer recovering in hospital after allegedly being thrashed in the Behrampore police station, has decided to move court and the state human rights commission.

“Last Thursday night a group of about 25 policemen surrounded my house and asked me to accompany them to the police station. They said I was being placed under arrest on the basis of a complaint against me by another lawyer, Shaktipada Mondol,” said Banerjee, who had blood clots and marks of injury on his hands and feet.

In the police station, sub-inspectors Samrat Phani and Sandip Sen and four other policemen beat him up for nearly an hour, he said. “They strung me up and beat me with lathis and even administered electric shocks.”

The recuperating lawyer said the police and a section of his colleagues were not happy with him as he mostly contested cases against policemen. Banerjee alleged he had been targeted since he took the side of a police constable’s wife. “I had secured a warrant of arrest against the constable for torturing his wife and an order asking him to provide Rs 500 a month for her maintenance. Last September, I was picked up from the road by that constable and two others, taken to the police station and beaten up. I went to court against the police for beating me up and filing false charges against me,” Banerjee said.

A complaint was then lodged against Banerjee by Mondol last January after the two had a confrontation. “We sat together with the bar association and sorted things out,” Banerjee said. Mondol, when contacted, said he had lodged a complaint with the police but the matter was later sorted out.

Yesterday, district bar association president Kishalay Sengupta stepped down from his post, citing physical infirmity. But a section of lawyers were loathe to accept his reason.

“The way a lawyer was treated by the police without reason and the manner in which the bar association remained a mute spectator was too much for Sengupta to bear and that is why he resigned,” said Minati Ghosal, a lawyer.

Bar association secretary Tapajyoti Sengupta demanded that the guilty policemen be punished.

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