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Seek cop help, end in lock-up
I asked Sarkar why he was not taking any action against the taxi driver, adding that for such minor problems, one should not have to approach senior police officers. This infuriated (assistant sub-inspector) Sarkar — Sanjay Bhattacharya

Trouble with a foul-mouthed taxi driver' Do what you will, but don’t dare turn to the friendly neighbourhood policeman. This was the lesson Sanjay Bhattacharya learnt the hard way on Mahalaya.

The Behala-based businessman made the mistake of approaching an on-duty assistant sub-inspector of the local police station after being refused and abused by a taxi driver.

Instead of punishing the rogue cabbie, the cops turned on Bhattacharya, took him to the lock-up and forced him to spend the night with criminals.

Next day, after his release, the businessman, not knowing what had hit him, had to undergo trauma therapy.

A resident of Biren Roy Road, in the Thakurpukur police station area, Bhattacharya approached a taxi parked in front of the Behala tram depot, on Mahalaya. He was headed home, a couple of kilometres away, near Behala Chowrasta.

When Bhattacharya took his seat, the taxi driver told him to cough up Rs 60 to travel the short distance. “It was around 9.30 pm. and I told him that I would pay him by the meter reading. He refused and started abusing me, before ordering me off the taxi. I told him that this kind of behaviour was the reason why the police were harsh with them,” recounted Bhattacharya.

The driver then challenged Bhattacharya to take down the registration number of his vehicle and lodge a complaint with the local police station. “You will not find any sympathy from them, they know me well,” he added. “It was then that I walked down to Chitta Ranjan Sarkar, assistant sub-inspector, who was standing a few metres away and narrated my ordeal in detail. He seemed least bothered and asked me to go to the police station.

“But I asked Sarkar why he was not taking any action against the taxi driver, adding that for such minor problems, one should not have to approach senior police officers. This infuriated Sarkar and he ordered me to accompany him to the police station,” said Bhattacharya.

At Behala thana, Sarkar and his colleagues ridiculed and abused Bhattacharya, before putting him behind bars, charged under Section 151 of the Indian Penal Code (arrest to prevent commission of cognisable offences). Bhattacharya alleged that his pleas to call family and friends fell on deaf ears through the night and he had to spend 12 hours without food or water.

At around 8.30 the following morning, when officer-in-charge (OC) Subhash Sen arrived, Bhattacharya was allowed to make one call to inform friend Deb Sengupta about his whereabouts. When Sengupta and his wife reached the police station, they found Bhattacharya in a state of shock.

OC Sen then admitted that his men were at fault and even inquired whether Sarkar “seemed drunk” when he arrested the businessman. Bhattacharya was allowed to go, but without his watch and the Rs 1,300 he had been carrying. Police later told the family the watch would be returned.

OC Sen told Metro on Sunday: “I don’t want to say anything about that case. I don’t have time to waste now. Talk to me tomorrow, let me see how I can help you.”

Bhattacharya, meanwhile, is undergoing counselling and trauma therapy. “When I met him that afternoon, he was suffering from acute mental trauma and depression,” recounted doctor Subhash Ganguly.

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