Barely 72 hours before the house of a sales tax officer was burgled in New Alipore, armed gangsters went on a looting spree in another house in the same locality. The raid followed an identical pattern — the front door was broken open, the couple was hit with the butts of revolvers and choppers and the goons walked away with the valuables.
Early on April 21, armed gangsters had robbed Rs 40,000 from the house of WBCS officer Mukul Bose, after wounding him and his wife with revolver butts. On April 18, a group of four youths in their mid-twenties had stormed the one-storey house of an elderly couple at P/6, Alipore Avenue (extension west).
Recounting the terror, 76-year-old Nitibhushan Chakraborty said: “My wife and I were awoken by a loud noise. Before we could realise what was happening, four youths, armed with iron rods, choppers and revolvers, entered the room and surrounded our bed. One of them started dragging me out while another, in Bengali, asked for the key to our cupboard.”
Chakraborty says he started screaming for help. That drove the goons to violence. “The youth who was roughing me up hit me on the head with a weapon. I could not make out whether it was a revolver-butt or a chopper. I felt the blood oozing out of the wound. But I did not stop calling out for help,” recalled Chakroborty.
“Then, with a revolver trained on me, the goons snatched the cupboard key and opened it. They took Rs 12,000 that I had kept aside for an emergency medical treatment. After that, they forced my wife to part with her bangles and a ring,” said Chakraborty. “Suddenly, someone whistled outside and all four goons left my house. Later, I came to know that one of my neighbours had called up the police station on hearing my screams. And, sensing trouble, the miscreant who was on guard outside warned his associates with a whistle,” added the senior citizen.
Prakash Kumar Ghosh, officer-in-charge (OC) of New Alipore police station, was confident it was same group that has been committing dacoities in pockets of New Alipore close to the railway tracks of the Sealdah-Budge Budge section. “Their style of operation is identical. One of the gangsters is an expert in picking locks with a small iron rod (known as gancha in criminal parlance),” Ghosh added.
According to the police, the youths of the shanty areas in Chetla are on the list of prime suspects. “Most of them are addicted to drugs and ganja. I have taken charge of this thana barely two months ago and already, at least 50 addicts have been arrested,” OC Ghosh said.
But the local police agreed that the attack on residents is a dangerous trend. “Earlier, burglars would not physically harm the householders. They would flee if faced with resistance. But now, alarmingly, they are armed with deadly weapons,” said an officer of the police station.
OC Ghosh said he had held a meeting with the residents of New Alipore. “At present, six men are deployed to patrol the area every night. They cannot guard the railway tracks, as the zone falls under the jurisdiction of the railway police. But it is a fact that the dacoits are crossing the railway tracks to enter and leave New Alipore,” Ghosh said.
“I have sought manpower from the residents to assist the patrolling team. But help has not been forthcoming. The residents have agreed to raise the height of their boundary wals, though. On our part, we are intensifying our vigil against crime,” said the OC.