Salt Lake police had responded to the robbery SOS from a homemaker on Tuesday night with two procrastinating constables in their forties and a sub-inspector in his fifties who wore trousers so tight he couldn’t scale a wall.
The trio, armed with two rifles and a revolver, stood outside CF 71 thinking about what to do even as the six robbers went about ransacking the house, relatives of the family complained.
“They came only after two of our relatives went to the police station and pleaded with them to do something. It was unbelievable seeing three armed cops refusing to act, saying they were assessing the situation,” said Asish Gupta, a relative of house owner Ratan Lal Gadia.
The three policemen allegedly wasted considerable time asking relatives of the family gathered outside the house to provide details like the number of robbers inside, when they barged in and how.
When someone suggested that the cops scale the 5ft boundary wall and try to enter the house, they allegedly said their trousers were “too tight” for it. “They had the gall to ask some among us to climb the wall instead,” a relative said.
As the minutes ticked by, some relatives mustered the courage to break open the door but the sub-inspector still wouldn’t budge, family members said.
“He stood behind those of us who broke open the door. His colleagues remained outside. The officer’s revolver remained in its holster even when two of the robbers pointed their guns at us,” said one of those who helped arrest three of the goons.
The relatives pinned down two robbers along with part of the booty while one was arrested after he got injured jumping from the terrace on the garage shed.
“We urged the policemen to shoot the fleeing robbers in their legs but they claimed an official order was needed to open fire. Had they acted like the police should, the remaining robbers would have been caught as well,” relative Ashok Agarwal said.
District police officers, who have long resented a proposal to bring Salt Lake under Calcutta police, claimed the best available team on night patrol was deputed for the job.
An officer stationed at the district police headquarters in Barasat, 20km from Salt Lake, blamed homemaker Neeru Gadia’s SMS to her sister for the delayed response. “The SMS was vague. We deputed the night patrol team to assess the situation and later sent back-up,” the officer said.
The three arrested robbers are Karan Gupta of Patna, Avishek Kumar of Gaya and Ramesh Gupta of Muzaffarpur, all in Bihar. The police found two pistols, eight rounds of cartridges, two cellphones, four SIM cards registered in Mumbai, three debit cards and a dagger on them.
The recovered booty includes 152 diamonds, two gold chains, three pairs of earrings, six cellphones and Rs 11,800.