Three criminals out on parole after their recent arrest on charges of murder and extortion went around Beniapukur on a motorcycle, firing several rounds, hurling bombs and threatening local traders.
The terrorised traders and local residents later gathered at Padmapukur and raised slogans against the police. The situation reached a flashpoint, forcing state youth services and minority affairs minister, Mohammad Selim to rush to the spot. “It’s a dangerous situation out there. The police should take immediate steps to track down the culprits,’’ the minister said.
Deputy commissioner of police (headquarters) K.L. Tamta said goons Azad and Golden, initially arrested on charges of extortion and murder, obtained bail on Friday and decided to take it out on the traders who had complained against them.
Witnesses said Azad and Golden reached the area with an associate, Safat, around 9.30 am. “They were brandishing revolvers and pipeguns while moving around Padmapukur market,’’ a witness said. On reaching the market hub, both fired several rounds. “Mouthing abuses, the duo warned traders that all those who had complained to the cops against them would be dealt with firmly,’’ he added.
The traders — mostly dealers in leather goods — alleged that Azad and Golden had demanded Rs 6 lakh from them. “They drove around Christopher Road and Suresh Sarkar Road several times before speeding off towards the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass,’’ said Alok Sanyal of Padmapukur.
Sanyal said he was returning home from the local vegetable market when he saw the criminals, with their revolvers and pipeguns cocked, zooming around the area on the two-wheeler. “They were around for more than 20 minutes, telling residents the turf belonged to them and the police were non-entities,’’ he added.
Residents alleged that they telephoned Beniapukur police station and even tried to inform the deputy commissioner of police (eastern suburban division) Sanjay Mukherjee. “The police took 45 minutes to cover a distance of a kilometre. We could not get any senior police officer on the phone,’’ complained Rabi Sengupta of Suresh Sarkar Road.
By the time the police reached the spot, the criminals had fled. Residents gathered and began shouting slogans against the cops. Minutes later, minister Selim reached the area and tried to pacify the crowd.
Selim admitted that criminals had a free run in the area. “In the past few months, I have tried my best to identify the troublemakers,’’ he said. Most of them enjoy political patronage, he claimed, but it was up to the police to collar them, he added.