The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The bull that sees red in VIPs
- Two kinds of security for visiting Jyoti Basu

Behrampore, Jan. 22: He is neither a terrorist nor a dreaded dacoit, not even a political extremist, but every time a VIP comes calling, police have to be on their toes to prevent him from attacking cars and convoys that pass through his territory.

Meet Sambhu the bull. Standing close to five feet at the shoulder with strong and stubby horns, the bull rages at the slightest provocation, charging at cars and people with utter disregard for his own safety.

As his reputation spread far and wide, the police stopped taking chances. Today, for instance, former chief minister Jyoti Basu was here to inaugurate a medical diagnostic centre.

Two policemen were deployed specifically to prevent Sambhu from straying anywhere near where Basu was supposed to be. They will be with the bull — with a mind of its own, it seems — today as well as tomorrow. The police had taken the same precaution during chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s visit about a month ago.

The district superintendent of police, Virendra, pleaded ignorance about the fact that special guards were posted for Sambhu during the VIP’s visit. “But I can tell you that this bull has a habit of running right in front of cars and even butting them, he has even killed,” Virendra said.

“Sambhu is an additional headache for us. There is no pound for stray animals here where he can be kept, nor is there any facility with the forest department. I have asked the animal resources department to take him somewhere else. On some occasions, the bull has come charging in front of my car and refused to budge,” said district magistrate Manoj Panth.

The only time the town fathers decided to take the bull by its horns was after Sambhu rammed former municipal chairman Akbar Kabir’s green Maruti and damaged it badly.

The terror that is Sambhu was evident in the instant reaction of the forest range officer, Lakshmikanta Mondal. “Arrey bapre! He had charged at me once and nearly killed me. His horns pierced my hand and it was badly cut. Unfortunately, we do not have any space where we can keep him confined,” Mondal said.

Sambhu seems to be especially partial to red vehicles, said those who know him, confirming the “red-rag-to-a-bull” adage. But around here his proclivity has earned Sambhu the reputation of being a Congress sympathiser.

There is a history behind the bull’s naming. The town police station once had a sub-inspector called Sambhu Roy who was a fearsome character. “The bull got his name as the policeman spread the same kind of terror,” the local people said.

Sambhu’s movement ranges between Barrack Square, the district magistrate’s bungalow and the office of the district intelligence branch. From the hawkers at the bus stand to the residents of the government quarters at Barrack Square, everyone treads the area warily. No one dares park his vehicle at Barrack Square.

Many residents of the government quarters have erected iron gates at the entrance to their homes. Only six months ago Sambhu had butted a beggar woman who died.

But the four-legged bovine menace has some sort of a fan following, too. “Every morning between 7 and 8 and every afternoon around 3 pm, Sambhu comes and stands in front of our house at Barrack Square and we put out some food for him. Probably that’s why he has never misbehaved with any of us,” said Sikha Ghosh, a homemaker.

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