The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Constable on patrol duty shoots self

Driven by frustration, a 43-year-old constable of a mobile ‘Tiger’ van put a bullet through his chin and killed himself around 2.30 am on Saturday.

According to officials, constable Ajay Bhattacharya of the Hastings police station, who was patrolling near Birla Planetarium, put his service rifle under his chin and pulled the trigger in the wee hours.

A profusely bleeding Bhattacharya was rushed to hospital, where doctors declared him “brought dead”. The bullet had pierced his skull and killed him instantaneously.

The incident caused panic among the other members of the patrol party. The control room at the police headquarters in Lalbazar immediately swung into action and mobilised a huge force, thinking that criminals had killed Bhattacharya. “At first, we thought he was shot, but there was nobody in sight. Finally it dawned upon us that Bhattacharya had killed himself. His fingers were still firmly placed on the trigger. And his entire face was smeared with blood,” one of Bhattacharya’s colleagues said.

Senior police officers rushed to the spot to oversee the investigation. “It was a clear case of suicide. Our preliminary investigation reveals that the constable was upset for some time over personal problems. He used to complain of having two daughters to marry off,” said Kuldip Singh, deputy commissioner of police (south division), who has ordered a probe into the incident.

During investigation, police learnt that Bhattacharya had arrived at the Hastings police station half an hour before time for his night duty at the Tiger patrol van, from 9 pm to 6 am. He was ill for the past few days but was regularly attending work.

Bhattacharya, who used to stay at the police quarters in Baranagar with his wife, brother and two daughters, told some colleagues that he was planning to visit his native place in Midnapore on a longer leave. “He did not speak much and would slowly board the van, which would take him near the planetarium,” another constable said.

After reaching the spot, Bhattacharya took position near the Cathedral Road-Kingsway crossing, but remained aloof. According to his colleagues, a little after 2 pm, he went on a walk. On his return 15-20 minutes later, he sat down in a chair beside the Tiger patrol van. His colleagues — an ASI, a constable and the driver of the van — were moving around nearby when a loud gunshot broke the silence. Bhattacharya had pulled the trigger on himself.

“We have learnt that Bhattacharya used to keep to himself. He looked depressed of late but no one had asked him,” Singh added.

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