Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Wednesday asked senior army officials not to punish the officer who had stopped his convoy on Tuesday evening, while he was leaving Nandan.
At around 8 pm on Tuesday, when Bhattacharjee’s convoy was on its way out of Nandan —the chief minister’s favoured evening haunt — it was stopped by a group of armymen. An altercation over the right of way ensued, till the confusion was cleared and the chief minister was allowed to go through.
The general officer commanding-in-chief (GOC-in-C) of Eastern Command, J.S. Varma, called on Bhattacharjee at Writers’ Buildings on Wednesday morning to apologise for the misunderstanding. It was then that the chief minister requested Varma not to punish or censure the officer involved.
The chief minister later said: “The officer was simply carrying out his duty. He had no idea who was inside the car. The moment he realised it, he apologised.”
Bhattacharjee went on to sympathise with the officer who had recently come to Calcutta from Kashmir. “He must have been in a different frame of mind. I have just come back from Kashmir, and I know the situation there,” he added.
After speaking to Varma, Bhattacharjee reiterated his request to Brigadier M. Khajoria, station commander, Calcutta, when he, too, called on the chief minister at Writers’.
“I presented all the facts of the case to the chief minister. It was dark when Bhattacharjee’s convoy had come in the way of the army officers. Moreover, the passenger’s identity was not evident to the officer, who immediately ordered the soldiers to stop the convoy,” said Brigadier Khajoria.
The chief minister’s convoy often does not use the hooter and the officers coming out from the Nandan-Rabindra Sadan complex after a show had no way of knowing about the chief minister’s whereabouts, he added.
“The chief minister has very kindly requested us that the officer should not be censured. The matter has been resolved,” Brigadier M. Khajoria added, after his meeting with Bhattacharjee.
He, however, refused to divulge the name of the officer. “He is already embarrassed about the incident; we don’t want to embarrass him further,” said Brigadier Khajoria.