Courtroom, 2.15 pm. The 12th judge of the city sessions and civil court, Basudeb Majumdar, pauses, looks up, takes a deep breath and starts: “The prosecution has successfully proved the charge…”
The shuffling of feet within the cage for the accused stops and the hum of voices in the crowded courtroom dies. The words of the judge reverberate around the room on the fourth floor of the court, before spreading far and fast.
Three-and-a-half hours of waiting for the verdict had come to an end on Wednesday afternoon — the five accused had been found guilty in the Bapi Sen death case.
| Law route to guilty verdict
On the last night of 2002, the sergeant had been mortally wounded by five constables when he had tried to stop them from teasing a young woman.
Pijush Goswami, one of the accused, was the first to react — with a smile. Defiant in a red T-shirt, with the tilak on his forehead glistening, he seemed to be searching for some faces in the crowd.
The sentence would come on Thursday, he was told, as he fixed his gaze first on the judge and then on his only family member present in court — his ‘dada’.
The elder brother stood firm: “Amar bhai kintu nirdosh (My brother is innocent),” he muttered, shaking his head in despair.
Pijush kept mum. He only lost his cool when, after being hustled downstairs, a police officer asked the guilty to “behave” themselves.
“What the hell… We have been behaving ourselves throughout. What are you trying to tell us now'” he shouted at a police officer.
Refusing to face the camera crew on the ground floor, Pijush grabbed a newspaper from his brother and covered his face, before he and the four other guilty men stepped out of court.
“Chinta korish na… aschi (Don’t worry… I’m taking your leave),” were the parting words from Pijush to his brother.
Sridam Bauri, another of Bapi’s killers, was far less stoical. Verdict delivered and heard, he slumped on the bench — after having stood throughout Wednesday’s session — and covered his face with his hands.
The crowd of relatives, who had stood patiently outside the cage of the accused, closed in. A quick exchange with family later, Sridam looked up.
“Aapnader boley ki hobey (What is the point of talking to you)'” he shot back at reporters surrounding the guilty.
Madhusudan Chakraborty, a co-accused, tried to pacify Sridam and push him away.
Mujibur, the fourth cop to be found guilty in the death of the sergeant, seemed quite nonchalant as he stood in one corner before trying to calm Sridam down.
A maduli dangling from his neck, Mujibur called for his father, Sheikh Keramat Ali, who moved slowly towards the iron mesh of the accused box, to spend a brief moment with his son found guilty.
Shekhar Mitra, the last of Bapi Sen’s assailants, held on to his brother Debasish. Throughout the session, he had stood with eyes shut firm, clutching on to the iron mesh. After the verdict, Debasish said: “We’ll wait for tomorrow… That’s all we can do.”