At 4.15 pm on Friday, Vidyasagar Setu, or the second Hooghly bridge, recorded its first suicide in its 13-year existence.
A young man rode up the bridge from the Howrah end on a Hero Honda motorcycle (WB12-J 5959).
At a spot near the centre of the bridge, he parked the vehicle on one side and stared at the river flowing below.
After a few minutes of contemplation, with studied deliberation he took off his sunglasses, placed them on his motorcycle, and then took off his shoes.
Then, suddenly, he sprinted across to the first barrier ' the wall of cables holding up the bridge ' vaulted it, clambered up the railing and then jumped into the Hooghly.
'The occupants of a passing car saw the entire episode and reported it to us,' N. Ramesh Babu, deputy commissioner (south), said on Friday evening. 'They narrated the suicide to the police outpost on the Calcutta side of the bridge.'
Police found the two-wheeler and scanned the river, but there was no trace of the youth.
From the vehicle's registration number, it appears he was from Howrah
With cops drawing a blank on the ground, the river traffic police swiftly got into the act.
'The current was strong, so there was hardly any chance of us finding anyone,' admitted Dipak Chatterjee, officer-in-charge of river traffic police. 'We travelled quite a bit down the river ' in fact, right up to the port approach,' Chatterjee added. 'He was swept away by the tide.'
River traffic police had taken a diver along, but he was of little use as there was no clue about where the man could be.
Till late on Friday, the youth remained untraced.
After abandoning the search, police are checking the missing persons' complaints that have been lodged in Howrah in a bid to ascertain the man's identity.
This is the first record of a suicide attempt on a bridge that has been in the news for a host of accidents, including the high-profile motorcycle skid involving Vivek Oberoi.