The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cops on wheels: swifter, smoother, smarter
- Maidan constables mount special vehicles to chase ‘bicycle thieves’

Pedal away ‘bicycle thieves’, the bicycle police have hit Queensway. Cops, who have always used two-wheelers to patrol their beat, are now using the more eco-friendly option. The Maidan police — protecting the area where traffic possibly flows the fastest within city limits — have been equipped with bicycles to keep pace with petty crime.

The recently set-up Maidan thana is the only police station in town to have introduced this unique method of policing. Two young policemen in plain clothes, with lathi and wireless, have been pedalling Red Road, displaying white boards reading ‘Maidan P.S’.

The brainchild of Asish Sengupta, officer-in-charge, Maidan police station, the bicycle brigade has hit the road with no financial help from the government. A local businessman has pitched in with two ‘brand-new bicycles’. “In the past few months, thieves on cycles have been snatching valuables from pedestrians in the Maidan area. The constables on foot could do nothing,” explains Sengupta. “The new cycles have helped a lot. Now, ‘mobile’ constables are patrolling the crime-prone zone round-the-clock, and not a single case of snatching has been reported in the past two months.”

Faced with a funds crunch, motorised vehicles could not be provided to the constables. So, the affordable faster option was the bicycle. The distances that took an hour to patrol on foot are now covered “within 15 minutes”. There are benefits of being on a cycle, rather than a faster-moving vehicle, feel the men in white. A few weeks ago, they noticed a man lying on Outram Road, gasping for breath. The pedal police alerted the thana, which sent a vehicle to rush him to SSKM Hospital.

The green benefit of choosing cycles over gas-guzzling motorcycles cannot be ignored. And it is also an easy way of looking less idle. “If a policeman is sitting on the pavement, he appears lazy… People want to see mobile law-enforcement officers,” opines Sengupta. The Maidan thana is happy with the way the wheels are turning so far. So happy, in fact, that they are on the lookout for eight more bicycles and wireless sets.

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