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Meet on cop crackdown

Senior North 24-Parganas officials and local political leaders met on Monday to ensure that they are on the same page before the planned crackdown on crime dens in the district. In the past, such drives had failed because of interference from politicians.

The meeting in the district magistrate’s office was attended by representatives of eight political parties including Trinamul and the CPM, suggesting an agreement on the need to act firmly six days after teenager Rajib Das was killed in Barasat for protesting the teasing of his sister by a group of drunks.

The leaders promised to co-operate with the police, said sources.

“Often our drive creates an adverse response among local residents and a major law-and-order problem crops up. That’s why we need to convince local leaders,” said district magistrate Vinod Kumar.

Police officers said it was impossible to demolish hooch dens and other illegal structures without local political support. An officer cited a futile attempt to remove encroachments on Barasat Station Road as an example of local resistance foiling a move that would have helped hundreds.

The chairman of the Trinamul Congress-run Barasat municipality, Sunil Mukherjee, welcomed the move. “The drive is essential to curb crime as well as offer the residents encroachment-free roads,” he said.

CPM district secretariat member Amitava Nandi echoed him. “The drive should be conducted at the earliest.”

Illegal roadside sheds, like those lining Kachhari Maidan near which Rajib was stabbed, turn into crime dens after dark. “We need to demolish these to keep the goons away,” said an officer of Barasat police station.

But what is the point in conducting raids after letting everyone know that they were in the offing? A senior police officer said “the time and targets” were still a secret.

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