The spot (in red circle) in the bylane at Haridevpur in Tollygunge where three men snatched the chain of Kanan Dutta (right, below). Dutta’s granddaughter Diya with one of the anklets. Pictures by Sanat Kr. Sinha
An elderly woman in Tollygunge was robbed of her gold chain on Monday morning while on the way to a nearby park where her five-year-old granddaughter had lost a silver anklet the previous evening.
Kanan Dutta, a 55-year-old resident of Naskarpara Lane in a congested Haridevpur locality around a kilometre from MG Road off Karunamoyee bridge, was walking with elder son Balaram around 5.10am when three men on a bike snatched her chain and fled.
“The bike slowed down near us and I saw the man in the middle stretch his hand and bend towards me…. Before I could react, his hand was on my neck. He pulled my chain and pushed me the moment the chain gave way. This happened in a split seconds,” the traumatised grandmother said.
Balaram, in his late 30s, tried to stop the bikers but was pushed away too. By the time a scream escaped the woman’s lips, the bike had vanished through a maze of bylanes.
The incident forced them to cut short their search for upper nursery student Diya’s anklet.
Balaram, who runs a family business of leather goods at Dalhousie, called Lalbazar soon after returning home.
“I dialled 100. When I told them the location, I was directed to report the incident to Regent Park police station. We went there only to be told that the incident occurred under Haridevpur police station, where we finally filed a complaint,” he said.
People in the neighbourhood alleged that “such incidents” have become “routine these days” because of lax policing.
A resident sarcastically remarked: “Crimes have become common, constables on beat duty have turned uncommon. Consider yourself blessed if you see a police car in a bylane, especially at night or in the early hours.”
His neighbour nodded. “There is a hooch den in the locality doing brisk business. All sorts of people visit this vice den. We have reported its presence time and again to the authorities but no action has yet been taken,” said the elderly man, who has been living there since the ’60s.
An officer shrugged apologetically and blamed inadequate manpower for the “near-zero visibility” of the police in the area.
“Haridevpur police station covers around 22sq km, the largest area compared with the rest of the 68 police stations in the city,” he said.
“But it has the same strength like any other small police station. Our fuel allotments too are limited and inadequate.”
Officers posted in the added areas of Calcutta police called the “limited-fuel excuse” a “lame one” to make up for the inaction.
“There is a provision to sanction extra fuel. Why not use more fuel to get better and more active night patrols in the bylanes off the main road?” asked an officer of an adjoining police station.
A similar attack was reported in January, where homemaker Sampa Samaddar was attacked and robbed of her chain at gunpoint while she was walking with her daughter Sonakhya, 18, to a bus stop on James Long Sarani. The police have yet to solve that case.