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Auto drivers beat up ex-cop for protest

Prabir Baran Sarkar. (Sanat Kr Sinha)

Auto raj in the city spares none, a retired police inspector found out the hard way on Sunday, when he was beaten up by three-wheeler drivers for objecting to rash driving in Chetla. The former cop’s calls to the 24x7 helpline of Calcutta police allegedly went unanswered.

“Never in my life have I felt so helpless. When the rogue drivers were beating me up, there were no policemen in sight,” said Prabir Baran Sarkar, 66, a former officer-in-charge of the wireless division of Calcutta police. “After I managed to get away from them, I dialled 100 but no one answered the call.”

Sarkar and his wife, Indrani, were on their way to a relative’s home in Dhakuria in a taxi around noon when a sharp right turn by an auto driver led to a near-collision between the taxi and a truck coming from the opposite direction.

“The auto driver was unperturbed and continued zigzagging through the traffic,” said Sarkar, who was seated next to the driver in the taxi. “When the auto stopped at a traffic signal near the Chetla bridge, the taxi driver caught up with it and I asked the auto driver why he was driving so recklessly.”

The auto driver allegedly shot back with a volley of abuses and was soon joined by three other auto drivers, who surrounded the taxi. “I told them I was an ex-officer but they said they did not care and threatened to beat me up,” Sarkar said.

The auto drivers allegedly tried to drag Sarkar out of the cab, punching him all the while. “Finally, two men from a nearby shop came to our rescue. Just then, the signal turned green and our taxi driver drove away,” said Indrani, 61, who was in the back seat. She managed to take down the last four digits (7115) of the registration number of the errant auto on the Rasbehari-Behala route.

After crossing the Chetla bridge, Sarkar called the police helpline thrice but allegedly got no response. “I asked the driver to take me to Chetla police station but he begged me not to drag him into the case. I was not feeling well, so I relented,” said Sarkar.

In the evening, Sarkar called up the traffic department and a complaint was registered with Chetla police station. “We have received a complaint and started investigation,” said an officer of Chetla police station.