| IN MEMORIAM: A message of tribute to Sergeant Bapi Sen goes up on the wall of his Parnasree club, which he helped turn into a pucca building. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
“A brave police officer, late Sergeant Bapi Sen of Calcutta Police, laid down his life in the line of duty to save a citizen of this city.
We appeal to the unknown lady and her companion to come forward to help us (in) establishing the case against the accused persons….
Commissioner of Police,
That was the Calcutta Police appeal — to the two Calcuttans who could help investigators sew up the Bapi Sen murder case — issued on Tuesday. The tenor of the letter, signed by the city’s top cop, whose five constables had battered the sergeant on the last night of 2002, clearly meant that the police have failed to trace the yet “unknown” woman on a motorcycle whom Bapi had stepped forward to save.
Calcutta Police had, on Saturday, engaged an artist to sketch the woman and her male companion, behind whom she was riding pillion. On Sunday, more than two dozen copies of the “rough profile”, sketched on the basis of “divergent versions” fed by the various witnesses, were sent out from Bowbazar to police stations across the city.
The fact that not a single police station has, so far, had any success, forced police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty to issue Tuesday’s appeal to the city at large. “Their (the woman and her companion) cooperation will be the true tribute to the fallen hero,” the appeal added, before assuring them that their identities would not be disclosed.
The last beneficiaries of Sen’s final act of heroism have been urged to contact Chakraborty directly, or the deputy commissioners in charge of the detective department (Soumen Mitra) and the central division (Zulfiquar Hasan).
The day after Bapi Sen lost the last battle of life, state transport minister Subhas Chakraborty, speaking at a programme in Behrampore, admitted that the incident proved how “indisciplined” the force had become. With officials in Calcutta alleging that a section of the lower cadre of the reserved force was trying to shield its colleagues, Chakraborty said the incident had occurred only because of a “steady deterioration” in the police force and “an erosion of values”.
Even as Chakraborty took a swipe at the failings of the force, the city police chief shifted the Bapi Sen case to the detective department, following reported complaints from Bowbazar police station against a section of the reserved force.
Reserved force constables are on duty at the central lock-up at Lalbazar (where the five arrested policemen are being kept) and the courts (where they are being produced), and so Chakraborty was “advised” to effect the shift.