The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

Married to conservative ideas

Sir — It is often said that the necessity of a spouse begins after sixty. This was also the feeling after reading the reports, “Love in 1951, marriage in 2002” and “Like Michael like Mama” (Dec 31). But on comparing the stories — 70-year-old Robin Behura marrying 69-year-old Bani Sequeria in Serampore, and Diana Douglas Darrid, 79, marrying Donald Webster, 72 — one finds that there are more differences — and disturbing ones — than similarities. The West-side story of the twice-married former wife of Kirk Douglas will be read with great interest by Indians, but only as something that happens in the West. The moment something like this happens in our own backyard, as in the case of Robin and Bani, the same people will find it quite unacceptable and even immoral. Take the fact that Robin Behura’s son did not attend his father’s wedding although he was very much present in Calcutta. We have to adapt the way we think to the demands of the changing times. And the sooner we do so, the better for us.

Yours faithfully,
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur

Valour in uniform

Sir — Bapi Sen has died — a victim of the brute force which only the police are capable of using. Has protection of the corrupt become more important than protection of the innocent' One traffic sergeant gets told off for pointing out to a politician the right place to park his car near a cricket stadium. Another one dies while trying to protect a woman who had no special security cover to protect her from eve-teasers and molesters who were policemen themselves. Yet, a few weeks back the same police force hauled up a bunch of far less harmful ruffians because they were stupid enough to harass the chief minister’s daughter.

Now, who will go and try to act as Sen did under similar circumstances' Certainly not the police.

But we will. We must.

My appeal to the ruling party and the opposition is that they must rise above petty political differences and let death beget death this one time. The killers of Bapi Sen should have nothing but death.

Yours faithfully,
Neelanjan Joy Bhattacharji, Calcutta

Sir — The sad demise of Bapi Sen has shaken Calcuttans thoroughly. It is a pity that the girl who was saved by Sen did not have the courage to turn up as witness. The statement of the policemen from Sulekha Building that they would not have encouraged the girl to come up had she been either the sister or wife of any of them speaks volumes (“Password yesterday, pariah today”, Jan 7). It is this social stigma which is perhaps preventing the girl from coming forward. It is time to change this attitude. But the constable colleagues of the five murderers should remember that being drunk does not mean the crime was any less a crime. The constables should be meted out exemplary punishment.

Yours faithfully,
Aparajita Dasgupta, Calcutta

Sir — The editorial, “Mean streets” (Jan 5), was brilliant. But perhaps it is not the streets, but we who have become mean. Although Bapi Sen is dead, the police administration continues to be in deep coma. The coma, however, recedes every time they have to deal with Alimuddin Street and its hangers-on. After coming to power in 1977, the Marxists have totally politicized and even brutalized the police force to successfully convert Lalbazar into an extension of Alimuddin Street. The result is that law and order has degenerated progressively. Despite Sen’s heroic death, the people of the state will continue to be a hapless lot. From Siliguri to the Sagar Islands, political differences with the ruling left mean either physical annihilation or living under threat. It is probably because of this that the people of the state have become so desensitized. That is also why Sen’s companions watched as their friend got beaten up. I also doubt whether the accused policemen will get the punishment they deserve. After all, we know what kind of chargesheets the Calcutta police draw up.

Yours faithfully,
Tapan Das Gupta, Calcutta

Sir — The people of the city hope that the brutal attack on and subsequent death of Bapi Sen will make the top brass of the Calcutta police aware of the deteriorating standards of the force. We also hope that the political establishment in the state will now try to find out how much it has contributed to the downfall of the police. Using the force as a political tool is responsible for this state of affairs.

Yours faithfully,
Amar Lahiri Majumdar, Calcutta

Sir — Hundreds of eve-teasing complaints lie gathering dust in police files. But the entire force goes into a tizzy the moment the “Eve” happens to be the chief minister’s daughter. In late night chases, the miscreants are always caught and punished. Only in isolated cases do women get assaulted by cops, and cops end up getting killed. Bapi Sen is a silver lining in a dismal horizon, but would such an incident have created so much stir had it been a commoner who had taken the blows'

Yours faithfully,
Neha Bihani, Calcutta

Sir — Policemen are nothing but criminals in uniform. They kill, rape, extort, eve-tease and take bribes. This is a legacy that the police administration has inherited. New entrants into the force cannot but go with the tide. The rot is so deep-rooted that even their brethren — the few who are upright — fall prey to the corruption and intimidation, and sometimes end up paying with their lives.

Police still remains the portfolio of the chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. He must be aware of the extent of corruption and moral degradation in the force. He must also have realized that the force needs to be overhauled, a task he has not been able to achieve. Since the police portfolio is a full-time job, he must entrust it to someone who is dynamic enough to clean the Augean stables.

Yours faithfully,
Sumit Majumdar, Calcutta

Sir — The Bapi Sen episode makes us feel very insecure. If law-keepers have such scant respect for the law, what can we expect from them'

Yours faithfully,
Prachi Dokania, Asansol

Sir — Both the daughter of the chief minister and the pillion-rider on New Year’s eve were eve-teased. But look at the difference in treatment. While in one case the offenders were severely punished, the other incident ended with the death of the girl’s saviour. Worse, the girl does not feel confident enough to come up as witness. Crimes like eve-teasing and rape are on the rise. Reports of such crimes prove beyond doubt the insecurity women have to live with. We need to have strict legislations to check crimes against women. For, as someone pointed out, every girl does not have a chief minister for a father.

Yours faithfully,
Fatema Zakir Marfatia, Calcutta

Sir — Even in his death, Bapi Sen has rendered yeoman service to the citizens of Calcutta by exposing the aberrant ways of constables — ostensibly upholders of the law of the land, but effectively criminals protected by their unions. The media reports emanating in the past week have mostly harped on the fact that a policeman was brutalized by members of his own force, largely ignoring the fact that the errant policemen were unaware that Sen was their colleague. I have a feeling that the five who assaulted Sen would have acted differently had they known this fact — although it is possible that they were too drunk for the fact to register. This does not make their crime any less heinous, but more so, since it implies that they would beat up any other non-police person daring to intervene.

The bitter truth is that the police are a feared lot, and for all the wrong reasons. They specialize in victimizing and fleecing innocent citizens who have no prompt recourse to redressal. This is a social problem. The police force must become more accountable, and swift action must be taken gains recalcitrant elements in their ranks. There must be many like Sen in the force, and it is a pity that they have to carry the bad name which the likes of the five bring to the force.

Yours faithfully,
Roma Circar, Jalpaiguri

Sir — Having lived on Middleton Street till recently, I recognized the face of Bapi Sen in the newspapers, as our friendly neighbourhood traffic sergeant. I pay my respects to one of the real policemen of the city. Sen’s collea-gues, who beat him to death, were drunk on liquor, but perhaps also on power, like many in the force —confident of political protection.

Yours faithfully,
Vijaya Rao Veerla, Baroda

Sir — I read with both sadness and pride about Bapi Sen. In a country where corruption is widespread among the police force, he laid down his life in the highest tradition of a police personnel trying to protect the common citizen whom he was sworn to protect. Sen is no different from the police and firemen who gave their lives trying to extricate people from the collapsing World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

The chief minister should exert all his power to punish the five murderers. More so because he has a daughter himself, and India has a notorious reputation of sweeping politically-sensitive cases under the carpet.

Bapi Sen makes me feel proud to be a Bengali.

Yours faithfully,
Parmeshwar Coomar, Wisconsin, US

Sir — Why did the Guwahati edition of The Telegraph on January 7 not even mention the death of Bapi Sen, the policeman of Calcutta who laid down his life to save a girl from being molested by his own colleagues' This story has lessons for the entire nation and should not be confined to the readership of Calcutta alone.

Yours faithfully,
S. Chaudhuri, Guwahati

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