A Lalbazar team racing against the clock to crack a case in which the victim was one of their own turned inexplicably lazy on Friday, going from crime-solving to sitting in front of a TV watching a Hollywood crime caper.
“We had been working overtime for 72 hours and suddenly we have so little to do that we are watching a movie to kill time,” said an officer in the team that had been probing the Garden Reach murder of sub-inspector Tapas Chowdhury.
The watch then showed 4.30pm. 2 Fast 2 Furious was playing on STAR Movies and the audience in the Lalbazar room comprised 12 officers of the detective department who hadn’t been home since Tuesday other than to take a shower and change.
None of them had asked for the break. It was forced on them, they said.
“We had reached almost the doorstep of a slippery accused. But our efforts have hit a wall. The responsibility of the probe has been taken away from us, giving the impression that we are not competent,” an officer said. “For your information, we arrested the (alleged) killer and a few others within three hours of the fatal attack on our colleague.”
So what happened in the aftermath of the arrests for the administration to relieve them of the responsibility of investigating their colleague’s killing?
The only official explanation available is that the original investigation team became redundant the moment the government decided to ask the CID to take charge of the probe. “The six police teams conducting simultaneous raids in the port division for Trinamul Congress leader Mohammad Iqbal were asked to pack up and report at the police headquarters on Thursday evening, almost immediately after the announcement about the CID taking over,” a source said.
Members of another wing of the detective department involved in the probe seemed to have all the time in the world on Friday to debate what would go well with puffed rice: singara or chanachur.
In that large Lalbazar room with tall windows, the officers, who had been busy conducting raids and interrogating the accused, also recounting the hectic schedule they had had for 72 hours.
“Will the CID prove more competent than us? I don’t think so,” an officer said.
Accused Abdus Subhan and uncle Mohammad Ibne Saud too had an easy day after being relentlessly grilled for two-and-a-half days.
A CID team reached Lalbazar around 8pm to take custody of the duo.
New police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha’s mission on his first day in office would have been to lift the sagging morale of his force. But officers in Lalbazar said that would be the toughest part of his job given the circumstances in which he had to take over from R.K. Pachnanda.
“He has to prove that he can ignore political pressure and let his people do their job, But it’s difficult to tell whether he will dare do that given that his predecessors lost the chair for trying just that,” said an officer of the detective department.
The buzz in Lalbazar is that Pachnanda paid the price for arresting Trinamul supporters allegedly involved in the Garden Reach incident and trying to corner those who instigated the violence.
While those who had been in the thick of the investigation had little to do on Friday, commissioner Purkayastha was busy at one meeting after another. He visited the detective department in the evening and spoke to some of the personnel. Among them were several officers of the probe team.
On Saturday, Kar Purkayastha is scheduled to meet the officers-in-charge of all police stations at the Bodyguard Lines in Alipore. He had given a pep talk to IAS officers after taking charge on Thursday.