The police administration’s blueprint to put Salt Lake under a security blanket has been ‘updated thoroughly’, following the recent spurt in arrests of Bangladeshis in Calcutta.
Alarmed by the exposure of links to Bangladesh, the Salt Lake police are gearing up to prevent “criminals from taking shelter in the township”. Ajay Nand, additional superintendent of police, said: “We are preparing a file on promoters and middlemen, who help criminals locate apartments in Salt Lake. We are also laying down some dos and don’ts for residents, stressing on the enhanced coordination between the block committees and the police.”
According to Nand, the house-owners must inform the block associations of new tenants moving into the area and the associations, in turn, must relay it to the police. “This must be maintained strictly, otherwise we will pull up errant landlords for not keeping track of criminal tenants,” Nand said.
The Bidhannagar House-owners Association alleges that most landlords in Salt Lake are uncooperative. “There are many house-owners who do not contact us before letting out their homes on rent,” said S. De Sarkar, joint secretary of the association. “They contact us only if there is trouble,” he said.
A few months ago, a narcotics dealer, Ansarul Rehman, was picked up from an apartment in Salt Lake. Years ago, a top United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) leader was also arrested from the township.
According to officials, criminals find Salt Lake an ideal place to take refuge. “These criminals choose two kinds of places — where they have a strong support from their community or a locality where the residents are not inquisitive. Salt Lake falls in the second category,” a senior official said.
The police have appointed one officer for every two blocks to maintain close coordination with the committees. “In some cases, however, we have reports that these officers, who are hired from local police stations, are not doing their jobs properly,” an official said. He added that while some block committees were actively coordinating with the police, there were others who lacked initiative.
Block committees, on the other hand, feel that it is not possible for them to monitor the arrival of tenants if the house-owners do not inform them. “In most cases, we are not able to monitor the activities of new tenants because of indifferent house-owners,” said Asit Mukherjee, president of FD Block Association. “The police must interact with us regularly. But that’s not happening, as of now,” he added.