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State and city cops’ turf duel spills out

Calcutta, March 14: A senior Bengal police officer’s email campaign among peers seeking help to thwart Calcutta police’s bid to extend their jurisdiction to suburban areas like Salt Lake brought angry protests from the city police commissioner at an IPS officers’ gathering today.

Gautam Mohan Chakra-barti said the language of the 10-page letter circulated by Vivek Sahay, special inspector-general (armed police), West Bengal police, two days before the meeting of the state IPS officers’ association was “inappropriate”.

In the letter addressed to the association’s outgoing secretary, Sahay said: “For better policing, we need co-ordina- tion between Calcutta police and the state police. Calcutta police’s expansion would be a case of biting more than it may be able to chew.

“I request you to take up the matter with the chief minister to set aside the proposal for extending the jurisdiction of Calcutta police to 18 police stations of West Bengal and instead agree to… creation of police commissionerates… with Howrah town and Salt Lake being the first two.”

Sahay was today elected secretary of the IPS association, which has around 300 members, unopposed.

When Chakrabarti complained about the letter’s “inappropriate” language, four officers spoke in Sahay’s support.

After the meeting, Sahay said: “All officers at the meeting were asked to give their opinion on the matter. I don’t know why he (Chakrabarti) took it personally. He should be open to argument.”

The police commissioner refused to comment.

The home secretary had announced last month that 18 police stations on the southern and northern fringes of the city would be brought under Calcutta police.

Of the 18, eight are in North 24-Parganas, including all three Salt Lake police stations, and 10 in South 24-Parganas. In the north, the other areas to come under the Calcutta police are Lake Town, Baranagar, Belghoria, Dum Dum, and Barrackpore. In the south, Sonarpur, Jadavpur, Thakurpukur, Mahestala, Kasba, Behala, Tiljala, Garia, Metiabruz and Budge Budge are part of the plan.

According to Sahay, the plan would affect the Calcutta police’s ability to deal with serious law and order situations. “They have already been over-stretched as could be seen recently during the violent agitation by autorickshaw drivers and the anti-Taslima (Nasreen) riots when the army had to be called in, though the violence had affected 3-4 police station areas,” Sahay said.

The extension, he added, would also drag the Calcutta police to trials in the districts and sessions courts.

The officer said Mumbai police had tackled a similar challenge by creating sister units like the Navi Mumbai and Thane commissionerates. “Why should the people of Salt Lake and New Town become outposts of Calcutta police rather than have their own commissionerates like the people of Cyberabad or Navi Mumbai?” he asked.

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