The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Enter, Fortress Salt Lake

Riding a bike in Salt Lake' Do it at your own risk, for you may end up shelling out a few hundred hard-earned rupees to get out of the township where the power-set lives!

That is the experience of hundreds of two-wheeler riders and taxi drivers, who are allegedly harassed by policemen standing guard at most entry points of Salt Lake. The policemen force them to cough up hefty sums on the pretext that they do not possess “proper papers” for the vehicle."

However, things are likely to change in a few days, with the Salt Lake police planning a major drive against rogue cops. “We are keeping an eye on rogue cops and will investigate charges of extortion made by drivers of all vehicles, including taxis,” Ajay Nand, additional superintendent of police, Salt Lake, said on Monday.

“Our primary objective is to net suspicious people and curb criminal activities in and around Salt Lake, and not to check the papers of every vehicle,” Nand said.

According to the police, compound slips are being issued every day. “Instead of vehicles, the stress should be on individuals and groups of people swarming in and out of the VIP township every day,” another officer said.

Salt Lake has 10 entry and exit points, and only at four such points are inspectors posted. These are Beleghata, Kadapara, J.K. Saha bridge and gate number two.

“There are not many complaints about illegal acts by police at these points. But at the other six, manned by lower-ranking officers, complaints are rife of ordinary people being harassed,” an officer said.

Admitting that policemen are often responsible for such acts, Nand said he would take the initiative to put an end to the corrupt practices.

“Fortress Salt Lake, the security blanket on the township, will be introduced on Tuesday,” Nand announced.

Drop-gates will be introduced at every entry and exit point from Wednesday, officers said. Two constables will be posted at each point on a mandatory basis. “Later, an officer will be posted there,” an officer said. These gates will manned from 6 am to 10 pm. Night patrolling will continue.

Nand asserted that strict disciplinary action will be taken against officers or policemen found guilty.

“Last week, three constables were warned against negligence of duty,” he said. These constables, members of the Community Services Control, were resting in their patrol van on the First Avenue when they were supposed to take a walk around.

A number of block committees alleged non-cooperation by police officers deputed for coordinating with the blocks. For every two blocks, one officer has been deputed to coordinate with the block committees.

Police are keeping a vigil on all the parks and empty lots of the town from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. to check petty crimes.

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