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Five hours of dither follows assault complaint

The decision to arrest the seven mayoral council members was not made as easily as the arrests.

At around 9 pm on Monday, deputy commissioner (central) Zulfiquar Hasan received the “green signal” from police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty to go ahead with the arrests. A marathon meeting followed, to work out the modalities.

Sources said that the nod for the arrests came from chief secretary S.N. Roy, with the “clearance” of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Even after receiving a specific complaint from an IAS officer, police took three hours to decide whether the accused would be arrested or not. When a unanimous decision was taken, the officers took another two hours to decide when and how the arrests would be made.

Municipal commissioner Debasis Som had lodged a complaint with New Market police station around 6 pm on Monday, five hours after the assault. “His complaint was specific. He gave a blow-by-blow account of the incident and said in detail how he was assaulted, heckled and kept confined. And above all, he mentioned the names of the seven who heckled him,” said deputy commissioner Hasan.

Immediately after the assault, Som called Writers’ Buildings and spoke to IAS association president P. Ray and principal secretary of the state municipal affairs department D. Mukhopadhyay. The association reacted promptly and met chief secretary S.N. Roy. It pressured the government, pointing out that it is difficult for any bureaucrat to work in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC). The chief minister, too, expressed his displeasure, terming the incident “unfortunate”, before leaving for Rome.

The swoop schedule was put in place after the Writers’ green signal on Monday evening. Commissioner of police Chakraborty directed his officers to go ahead. Initially, the police decided on a late-night swoop. “But we changed our decision. We feared that the arrest at night of seven mayoral council members might trigger a law-and-order problem. So, Tuesday morning it was,” said an officer, part of the crackdown team.

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