The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Distress waves in death wake

Living life under the shadow of a death is proving to be a harrowing experience for the family of Bapi Sen, the Calcutta Police traffic sergeant beaten to death by five inebriated subordinates out for some year-end revelry on the last night of 2002.

His father, a retired policeman, has lapsed permanently into dementia and amnesia. His wife, who asked for “any” public-sector job other than in the police, is still waiting for the Bengal government, which her husband served, to say yes.

And as the year that changed things forever at 27/164, Behala Government Quarters draws to an end, no one seems more bewildered than Somshubhra, Bapi’s eldest son. Not yet 10, he is waiting to return to his old school after an experiment with a new one did not work out too well.

For the Sens of Behala, now busy preparing for the rituals that take place a year after a death in the family, 2003 has been a nightmare that seems to be carrying itself over to 2004.

The sniggers from some of the accused constables’ colleagues (that “Bapi, too, was drunk on the night”) — now heard loud and clear in the city civil and sessions court — have not done anything to help matters, they say.

But then, that’s the outside world. It’s the home front that is far more worrying. And things start at the very head of the family, with Bapi’s 73-year-old father, Narayan Chandra Sen, who himself was a police officer once.

The septuagenarian went into a state of shock immediately after learning of his son being brutally beaten up by five constables, who were allegedly harassing a woman on Nirmal Chandra Chunder Street.

Nearly a year has passed, but Bapi’s father is showing no real signs of recovery. “He cannot recognise us,” said Bapi’s elder brother, Anup. “We actually lost two members of our family when Bapi died,” he added, gesturing towards his father.

The tangle with the government about a job for Bapi’s wife has claimed another victim. Taken out of his school and put into another, as Soma was then confident of getting a government job on sympathetic grounds, Somshubhra soon found that he could not adjust to the residential school.

He came back, only to find that he could not get readmitted to his old school midway through the session.

Somshubhra is now awaiting the end of the academic year to return to his books and to rejoin his friends.

To add a cruel twist to the family’s fate, the reason why the boy was taken out of his school and put into another has gone nowhere. His mother was offered a job, but in Calcutta Police, an organisation that she did not want to serve in after what five of its constables did to her husband, and is now waiting for the government to accommodate her in some other department.

The only one left relatively untouched by the tragedy that has befallen the family is Bapi’s younger son. Two-year-old Shankhashubhra bears no visible scars in a home shrouded by a horrible death and waiting for some justice.

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