The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Temple trouble over assault on constable

Trouble broke out at Kalighat temple on Saturday morning after a woman slapped a police constable who was manning the VIP gate of the temple.

On being informed of the incident, the officer-in-charge of Kalighat police station called back all police personnel posted in the area and refused to provide security to the temple.

The situation was later brought under control and the force was re-deployed after the intervention of the temple committee members.

According to police, the incident occurred around 8.30 am on Saturday when two women tried to enter the temple through the VIP gate. Three constables were posted there as usual. One of them refused to let the women in and asked them to take the gate for general visitors. But the women refused to listen to the constable.

An argument ensued in course of which one of the women entered into a scuffle with the policeman. “The woman slapped the constable,” said Moloy Ghosh Dastidar, chairman of Sathi Brahmin Committee, the umbrella organisation of temple pandas.

Soon Jayanta Das, officer-in-charge of Kalighat police station who was also present in the temple, rushed to the VIP gate. “When he protested the assault on the constable, a group of local youths — said to be sebaits of the temple — took the women’s side. No member of the temple committee was around to sort out the matter,” Dastidar added.

The humiliated officer-in-charge, then, withdrew all seven policemen posted at the temple and returned to the police station. He demanded the immediate intervention of Shambhu Mukherjee, president of the Kalighat Temple committee.

Later, members of the temple committee met Das and requested him to re-consider his decision. “The committee members assured us that they would take action against those who were backing the two women,” said an officer of the Kalighat police station. Das, later, sent the force back to the temple premises.

When contacted, Das refused to comment on the matter. Shivaji Ghosh, deputy commissioner of police (headquarters), said he would ask Das to submit a report on the incident “as soon as possible”.

“The temple has been under tight security ever since the terrorist attack on Akshardham temple in Gujarat. The two women had no right to enjoy the facilities of the VIP gate,” said the chairman of Sathi Brahmin Committee.

Shantipada Bhattacharya, chief priest of Kalighat temple, said he, too, had heard of the commotion. “The situation is now under control,” he added.

This was the second incident to rock the temple in recent times. A week ago, an armed youth had raided the house of Bidyut Halder, vice-president of the temple committee, and demanded Rs 10,000 from him. Later, a complaint was lodged at the Kalighat police station.

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