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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Resist cops and robbers
- Traders close ranks in safety gambit

Have you ever heard of police raiding a hideout in Burrabazar and arresting goons' Never. This indictment comes from Sunil Singh of Tripal Patti Vyabsayik Association, and it mirrors the mood in Burrabazar.

Emboldened by Friday's fightback ' when local reaction to an extortion attack at a telephone booth forced armed goons to flee ' and fed up with police inaction, the largest trading hub of the city has decided to launch Operation Resistance.

'We have no faith in police. Moreover, Friday's incident is an example for us. So, we have decided to unite to save ourselves from the extortionists,' said Amit Pandey, assistant secretary of Burrabazar Nagarik Front.

This community effort to close ranks against the goons comes two months after Metro had run a sustained campaign and despite a prod from the chief minister's office to the home department that the grievances of the traders be addressed immediately.

'We have been informing both the chief minister and the commissioner of police about the state of affairs in the Burrabazar-Posta belt. Recently, we received an acknowledgement letter from Writers' Buildings, but there has been no communication from Lalbazar,' alleged Pandey.

That police apathy has allowed crime to make a comeback in Burrabazar is a view held by most in the bustling area. 'Senior police officials hardly ever visit this place. They are just not bothered about us. So, we will have to take care of our own safety,' stressed Tarun Manik, vice-president of Tobacco Merchants' Association.

But how will Operation Resistance work on the ground' 'Forming an armed group is, of course, not an option. So we are motivating traders locally. Moreover, we are thinking of engaging a few armed guards from private security agencies who will be posted in front of key business establishments,' explained Manik.

Omprakash Mishra, a cloth merchant of Rupchand Rai Street, elaborated: 'Traders have been requested to come together as soon as they hear of one of their fellow traders being attacked. We know if we can gather up enough courage, the goons will have to beat a retreat.'

And after the first few fight backs, the goons will be wary of attacking and looting at will. 'We want to deliver a message to the goons that we will not remain mute spectators. And if we manage to catch the miscreants, we will teach them a lesson,' asserted Sushil Naroda of Brabourne Road.

As if to prove the point of the peeved populace, no arrests have been carried out after three goons attacked a telephone booth owner on Friday. 'We have learnt that they were from Howrah and a hunt is on,' said Gyanwant Singh, deputy commissioner of police, detective department.

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