With barely a day before the comrades converge on the city centre on Wednesday to defy Justice Amitava Lala’s verdict, the police gave enough indication that they would not intervene and stop their political masters from cocking a snook at the judiciary.
Sticking to its decision to sit tight, senior officers at the Lalbazar headquarters reiterated that there was nothing they could do to stop Wednesday’s “law-violation programme” unless they acquaint themselves with the “nitty-gritty” of the court order banning public meetings on weekdays. “As of now, we haven’t received the court order. Neither have we received the application for permission for the rally on Wednesday. Therefore, even thinking about implementing the high court’s verdict does not arise,” said deputy commissioner of police (headquarters) Kuldiep Singh on Monday.
No officer was willing to comment on the legal opinion that sitting tight on the issue could invite the wrath of the judiciary. There is every possibility of senior officers being summoned in court for failing to stop the demonstrators from defying the court verdict, legal experts opined.
Senior officers decided at a meeting in Lalbazar on Monday to adopt a “wait-and-watch” approach. “We will take one step at a time. We haven’t received anything on the rally in writing and there is still a day to go,” Singh added.
Police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty is understood to have briefed his officers to be ready for any eventuality. At a closed-door meeting, senior officers are learnt to have discussed at length the predicament they are in. “Even if we do get the court order, arresting senior leaders would be a difficult task,” admitted a special additional commissioner of police on condition of anonymity.
During the past few days, police have been drawing up alternative plans to divert traffic on Wednesday, in case the rally happens. “We have decided to focus on ensuring that traffic flow in the city doesn’t get hampered at all. We will have plenty of force on the streets for managing traffic,” was all deputy commissioner of police (traffic) M.K. Singh said. “I have no idea whether the procession will be stopped or not,” he added.
Divisional deputy commissioners (DCs) of police are yet to receive any intimation from the headquarters on stopping the procession. Usually, zonal DCs are informed in advance about public meetings. “There has been no news from Lalbazar and I haven’t decided on anything special for Wednesday,” DC (central) Rajiv Kumar said.