Calcutta, Feb. 16: Calcutta police commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha today advocated the use of “non-lethal” weapons and skirted the live-wire topic of political interference in his first interaction with field officers, disappointing several colleagues at a time the morale of the force is at an all-time low.
“Non-lethal weapons should be used by the officers for systematic and effective riot control,” Purakayastha was quoted as telling officers of 65 police stations at the Alipore Bodyguard Lines.
“Several types of modern non-lethal weapons are available. We need to procure them and should undergo continuous training,” he said.
Non-lethal weapons include lathi, teargas and water cannon.
But some officers said later that had the slain sub-inspector or the other policemen posted in front of Harimohan Ghose College on Tuesday been armed, they could have put up a resistance.
“At a time the morale of the force is so low and officers are discussing how (sub-inspector) Tapas Chowdhury died without resistance, the commissioner should not have stressed on this point,” an officer said.
The new commissioner’s declaration is being seen as a “decisive seal” on avoiding arms, sources said.
SI Chowdhury’s shooting while he was on law-and-order duty has caused resentment in the lower ranks of the force.
An officer said Purakayastha’s first official briefing turned out to be a “damp squib” as the commissioner didn’t address the issue of how to tackle political interference.
The Garden Reach shooting and the subsequent transfer of former police commissioner R.K. Pachnanda have made political interference the talking point in the force.
Pachnanda was shown the door after he refused to listen to the political bosses and dared to start a case naming Trinamul councillor Mohammad Iqbal, alias Munna, in the FIR.
Some officers were of the opinion that even though the main purpose of the meeting was to lift the sagging morale of the force, Purakayastha failed because he skirted the issue.
“He did not mention anything about impartial policing, free from political interference,” a senior officer in Lalbazar said.
“What happened in the past 48 hours has left no doubt in our minds about how the government wants us to act. But we wanted to hear whether the top brass too wants us to act on the same lines. The new commissioner did not utter a word on impartial policing,” an inspector said.