Sept. 6: Six bikers chased, assaulted and molested a group of youngsters who had dined at a popular dhaba on the outskirts of Calcutta even after they thrice dialled 100 for help on Thursday night.
The youngsters — a group of disc jockeys — were told by the police over the phone that the area was “beyond our jurisdiction”. On the third call, the police gave the group a landline number, which turned out to be that of a police station 25km from the site of the assault on National Highway 6.
The attack, which took place on a stretch preferred by Calcuttans for long drives and around 50km from the city, continued till three officers of the National Highways Authority of India passed by, smelt something amiss and stopped. The bikers fled.
“I saw a red car in the middle of the road and a group of men assaulting some young girls and boys. I stopped my car and, with two of my colleagues, ran towards them,” said Manas Mondal, an executive engineer of the NHAI who was heading to Calcutta after a meeting in Kharagpur.
The deejays — aged between 18 and 26 — said the chase had started after the group had driven around 10 minutes from Sher-e-Punjab dhaba in Kolaghat.
A 26-year-old deejay dialled 100 for help. The first call went unanswered. The next time he was told the area was “beyond our jurisdiction” and, on the third occasion, the cop gave him the landline number of Sankrail police station that was too far away.
It emerged today that a police patrol team stayed seated around 200 metres away despite being alerted by passing trucks. Two teams, responding to the engineer’s call, arrived after the bikers left.
One of the bikers was arrested today, given away by his cellphone that got dropped into the car in which the victims were travelling.
The police were prompt to deny all the allegations and cast aspersions.
“The allegations are baseless. The deejays were driving drunk and the motorcyclists were angry because they could have been hitů. We were not late,” said Bharat Lal Meena, the Howrah superintendent of police.
He did not explain the bloody nose that an 18-year-old girl in the group suffered and the many cuts and bruises on the three others. The driver needed two stitches on the forehead and dressings on several cuts in his chest and hands.
The police officer did not explain the relevance of alcohol. The deejays were being driven home and no breathalyser test was conducted on the driver.
The arrested “angry” motorcyclist — as the SP described the group — did not have a registration number on his bike. Police said the bikers were out to celebrate the new two-wheeler.
Mondal said it did not appear to him even once that the victims could be the offenders. “They were being beaten up. Even the women. I can vouch for them,” he said tonight.
The four deejays were returning home to Calcutta after a programme at an educational institution in West Midnapore. They had stopped on the way for dinner.
“The bikers were sitting on the table next to us and one of them had tried to strike up a conversation with me. We did not pay much attention but as we left in our car, we saw the six youths on three motorbikes following us,” said a 26-year-old deejay who plays at a night spot in Sector V.
The bikers rode parallel to their car from the two sides and began smashing beer bottles on it. Then they began zig-zagging in front of the car. That was when one of the deejays dialled 100.
A senior officer at the district police headquarters initially denied that any call was made to the Howrah police control room. Told of the exact time and duration of the calls, he said the call might not have reached because of “technical glitches”.
“These technical glitches happen often. There are times when a call from Kolaghat lands in Asansol. We do not know where the call went after the youths had dialled 100,” said Sukhendu Hira, additional SP, Howrah (rural).
The police could not explain why they did not alert the nearest police team instead of citing “jurisdiction” and giving the number of a police station 25km away.
While a deejay was trying that number, the car had reached an underpass construction site. Two of the bikers screeched to a halt in front of the car and another behind, blocking its path.
“The bikers dragged us out and began assaulting the girls. They snatched one of my phones. They were blindly slashing broken beer bottles at us,” said the deejay.
The girl, training to be a deejay, said: “One of the attackers put his hand in and unlocked the rear door. He dragged us out.”
“My friend, who was sitting by the window, had bruises all over her body and was bleeding from her nose. One of the attackers slapped me. When I called for help, one of them placed his hand over my mouth and threatened to kill me with a broken bottle,” she added.
The assault continued for 10 minutes and trucks and cars passed by. Then Mondal and the other NHAI officers stopped and called up the Howrah traffic police control room and the Dhulagarh toll plaza.
Two police patrol jeeps, one belonging to Bagnan police station and the other from Uluberia police station, reached the spot at 11.30pm.
WHEN THEY CALLED THRICE, THEY WERE GIVEN A NUMBER 25KM AWAY
The following information is based on call records and accounts by the deejays, witnesses and police officers
• To: 100
• At: 10.42pm
| A screen shot of the phone of one of the deejays shows the number (100) dialled, time and duration of the call
• To: 100
• At: 10.42pm
Call duration: 36 seconds
Location: Somewhere between Kolaghat and Kulgachhia,
under Bagnan police station
Deejays: We told the person
who took the call that we were being chased by bikers who
were slamming into our car from both sides and abusing us. We gave our location and sought help from the police. The
policeman at the other end
told us “sorry, the area is
beyond our jurisdiction”
• To: 100
• At: 10.50pm
Call duration: 1 minute
Kulgachhia and Birshibpur, under Bagnan police station
Deejays: We gave more
specific information to the
person who took the call this time. We said six youths on three bikes were chasing us and two girls were with us.
We also said we were passing by a construction site. We were again told the area is “beyond our jurisdiction”. The policeman added: “You take down this number — 03326790200 — and call there.”
• To: 03326793200
• At: 10.51pm
The deejays said one of them called twice but, in haste, he had dialled a wrong number and the call did not connect
• To: 03326790200
• At: 10.54pm
Call duration: 30 seconds
Location: Birshibpur, under Uluberia police station
Deejays: We told the
policeman we were on
National Highway 6 and
were being chased. The
policeman said: “You have called Sankrail police
station and the area you
are talking about is beyond our jurisdiction.” (Sankrail
police station is about
25km from the spot)
WHERE WERE THE POLICE?
A patrol team
200 metres from where the last
call was made,
sipping tea at a roadside eatery. People in the
area said on
alerted the police team about the
assault on the
An Uluberia police
station team reached the
spot at 11.30pm
WHAT THE POLICE ARE SAYING
The police reached the spot
within 10 minutes after being
informed of the incident. It is a baseless allegation that the
police were half an hour late
Shyamal Kumar Samanta
The allegations are baseless. The deejays were driving
drunk and the motorcyclists were angry because they
could have been hit
Bharat Lal Meena
(The deejays said they were not drunk and no breathalyser test was done.
It is not an offence to have drinks if one is not driving or harassing others.
Uluberia police station said no case for drink-driving had been started.
Besides, the one person arrested has been charged with molestation and
causing grievous hurt. The bike was not even registered.)