The car after the crash and (right) the truck it rammed into. Pictures by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Two policemen died on Park Street early on Monday when the car they were travelling in rammed into an illegally parked truck, exposing policing lapses in the city.
Sub-inspector Prabal Roy, 41, the second officer at Tangra police station who was at the wheel, and sub-inspector Dhanapati Ghosh, 50, who was sitting next to him, died immediately. Constables Netai Ghosh, 49, and Dipankar Dey, 43, sub-inspector Amal Kanti Bhattacharya, 55, and trader Mohammad Mazaffar Ahmed, 37, who were in the back seat, are in hospital.
None of the policemen was in uniform. Senior officers did not say whether they were on duty. According to sources, the group had dinner at a Sarat Bose Road eatery and the cops were on their way to Tangra police station in the Maruti Swift, which belonged to Ahmed.
The accident occurred near Bhagirathi Neotia Woman & Child Care Centre around 3.30am. “It is apparent that the driver did not see the truck that was illegally parked,” said an officer.
Parking goods vehicles is banned on Park Street at night. However, parked trucks are a common sight, especially in the area where the accident occurred.
“Lorries and containers are parked in this part of Park Street every night after 2am. It appears that the illegal parking is done with the help of the police as those on night patrol never remove the vehicles,” said a young professional who lives near the accident site.
An officer at Lalbazar said the accident might have been averted if the “illegally parked” truck had kept its blinkers on.
Lalbazar wings are blaming each other for the lapses that led to the crash, which is being investigated by the fatal squad of traffic police. Asked about illegal parking on Park Street, traffic department officers said the accident happened beyond traffic hours. “Traffic cops are on duty between 6am and midnight. If anything happens after that, it is the responsibility of the local police station,” said a senior officer.
Officers of the local Park Street police station claimed that their work was restricted to maintaining law and order.
“We are not trained in traffic management. If we come across any traffic violation, we can at the most report the matter to the traffic department the next day,” said a cop at the police station.
Traffic department sources said it was virtually impossible to stop traffic violations at night. “Since there are very few policemen and not enough security cameras on the road at night, vehicles do not follow traffic rules at all. Reckless driving causes most of the accidents at night,” said a retired police officer.
Surinder Ram and Ram Chandra Ram, the two drivers of the truck, were booked for illegal parking.
The injured were admitted to CMRI hospital. The bodies of Roy, a resident of Tiljala Road, and Ghosh, who lived at Dum Dum, were sent for post-mortem.
Five pedestrians were injured after being hit by a speeding two-wheeler on Garpar Road late on Monday. Police said the motorcycle was racing another when it hit the pedestrians. Residents set one of the two-wheelers on fire. The youths fled on the other motorcycle. Three of the injured were admitted to a nursing home.