A Calcutta police assistant sub-inspector and a constable were arrested on Monday evening for allegedly extorting Rs 4,000 from a Beckbagan couple who were stopped near the race course on their way to their daughter’s school in a taxi and accused of “indecent behaviour”.
A team from Hastings police station picked up ASI Kali Charan Biswas and constable Pradip Ghosh of the wireless branch three days after the couple lodged a complaint.
“The two have been charged with extortion under Section 384 of the IPC,” said Chanchal Kumar Dutta, joint commissioner (establishment).
Around 2pm on Friday, Sheikh Shabir Ahmed and his wife were moving along Hospital Road when, according to the complaint, a “white van” intercepted their taxi.
“Two men in uniform asked Ahmed to step out and told him that they had seen him in a ‘compromising position with a woman’ in the taxi and sought Rs 4,000 as penalty,” said an officer.
After paying the “fine”, Shabir took the same taxi to Hastings police station. Around 2.45pm, he lodged a complaint describing the men who had stopped them.
Such an allegation against the police is not uncommon in the city. The EM Bypass used to be a happy hunting ground for “extortionist cops” and the Sector V crowd was their easy prey, said a source at Lalbazar.
According to him, the police had to conduct raids to rein in their personnel. “Plainclothesmen were deployed to nab uniformed cops on patrol. Gradually the number of complaints dropped. Similar raids were carried out across Salt Lake where the police would be accused of extorting couples travelling together on deserted stretches.
But this is the first time policemen have been accused of extorting people in the heart of the city on a weekday afternoon, said a senior officer.
“The arrested policemen claim that they have been framed. But it is difficult to understand why a person would change his route, land up at a police station and lodge a false complaint,” one officer said.
The arrests come at a time when Lalbazar is struggling to lift the morale of the force following the murder of sub-inspector Tapas Chowdhury and the transfer of commissioner R.K. Pachnanda.