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Police speak with forked tongue

Calcutta, May 15: Four days after a metal strip — embedded in Camac Street as protective covering for optic fibre cable — killed young Amit Dalmia, police have not even “managed to get in touch” with Reliance Infocomm, the company that laid it.

The police, so far, have only lodged a case of negligence against “unknown persons” under Section 304A of the IPC, which is a bailable offence since it “does not amount to culpable homicide” and attracts mostly a fine.

The deputy commissioner, traffic, M.K. Singh, said the police were still “identifying who had laid the cables and getting the papers ready”.

“Today, one of our inspectors from the fatal squad met the administrative officer of Reliance Infocomm asking him for the documents relating to the laying of cables in Camac Street,” Singh said.

“He has been told that they will be made available soon.”

Singh has been misinformed, as a check with the inspector concerned, Supriyo Mondal, additional officer-in-charge of the fatal squad, revealed. Mondal said he had “tried” to contact the officer, but failed to find anyone. “Tomorrow I shall discuss the case with my seniors and then attempt to hand over the letter to them,” he said. “The paperwork takes a lot of time.”

An official of Reliance Infocomm said no one from the police had got in touch with them. “If anyone is saying so, it is totally untrue,” the official said.

A senior officer of the Shakespeare Sarani police station, under whose jurisdiction the accident took place, has another explanation to offer.

“We don’t know who had laid the cable so we have sent a letter to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation asking them to inform us about this,” he said. “It is only after they inform us in writing can we approach the company concerned.”

The CMC, responsible for maintaining roads, shrugged off responsibility, saying the state government had given permission to Reliance Infocomm to lay cables.

“We were bypassed then, so why should we be blamed for not noticing that metal strips are jutting out all over the city'” asked mayor Subrata Mukherjee. “The state government should also be blamed for the death for allowing the laying of cables without giving us the right of supervision.”

Anup Chatterjee, the member, mayor-in-council, roads, exonerated himself by passing the buck to the employees of his department. “There are 6,000 employees in this department, including road inspectors, and none of them had brought this to my notice,” he said.

“If none of these people informed me about it, why should I be held responsible'” he asked.

Questioned why — independent of the “confirmation” from the CMC — the police had not contacted Reliance Infocomm, police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty said: “Everything has a legal process which should be acceptable to the court. For this, we need documents to fix responsibility and my men are on the job of collecting evidence on the negligence angle. We need time for this, especially since we want to do a thorough job. I can assure you that the guilty will be brought to book.”

Amit’s father, Santosh Dalmia, said he is preparing the grounds to file an FIR.

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