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Residents cry redress cell
- Corrupt cops in corridor of chaos

Traffic snarls caused by slow-moving vehicles, unauthorised parking lots and encroachments on pavements have forced Burrabazar residents to shoot off letters to the chief minister, home secretary and police commissioner.

Their demand: a special cell or helpline for residents and victims to lodge complaints against corrupt cops.

Last week, The Telegraph had caught on camera policemen deployed along Brabourne Road extorting money from hand-drawn carts and cycle vans, allowing them to violate traffic rules and enjoy a free run of the thoroughfare.

'Common people's complaints are not entertained at Burrabazar police station. Over the past few months, several attempts have been made to lodge complaints against corrupt policemen, but to no avail,' alleged Amit Kumar Pandey, assistant secretary of Burrabazar Nagarik Front.

'There is no cell or helpline through which we can register complaints against policemen. If the cops want, they can easily sort out the problems here, but they are too busy pocketing money from the offenders to be bothered,' added Pandey.

In the absence of officer-in-charge Amiya Kumar Lahiri, the duty officer at Burrabazar police station said: 'If any individual wishes to lodge a complaint or register a petition, we are bound to record it. We have no report of anybody being turned away' But traffic policemen do not fall under our jurisdiction, so there is very little we can do about such complaints.'

The police brass at Lalbazar reacted sharply to the no-redress cry. Ranvir Kumar, deputy commissioner of police (headquarters), said: 'People can get in touch with us at the Lalbazar police headquarters any time to report such incidents, and we will treat such communication as formal complaints.'

But where is the dedicated caller line for complaints about police misdemeanours'

'There is no helpline for the common people to register complaints against police corruption,' admitted Arun Kumar Sharma, deputy commissioner of police (traffic).

'Anyone witnessing a traffic policeman accepting bribes can contact me directly over telephone, on e-mail or by post (see box), and we will definitely look into the matter,' added Sharma. 'We receive numerous complaints and suggestions in this manner, though I have never received a complaint of corruption against any policeman in my tenure.'

As the force turns a blind eye to blatant bribe-taking on the streets, Burrabazar remains a cauldron of chaos.

A five-member team formed by Calcutta High Court to probe traffic problems ' comprising advocates Aurobindo Chatterjee, Debashish Kar Gupta, Tapas Kumar Bhanja, Subroto Mookherjee and deputy commissioner (traffic) Sharma ' had visited the stretch last week and found the conditions 'horrible'.

The policemen are too focused on the job at hand ' pocketing their share of the fee-passage ' to be bothered, allege Burrabazar residents.

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