A businessman’s gold chain was snatched while he was driving back home from Howrah before dawn on Wednesday. A run-of-the-mill crime. Its only interest, to senior Calcutta Police officials, lay in the identity of the snatcher. He was a sergeant, recently promoted, and “on duty” at the Shyambazar five-point crossing.
Sergeant Pijush Chakraborty was caught red-handed on Friday, in the process of returning the chain for cash. “The anti-rowdy section arrested the sergeant on Friday evening on charges of snatching a businessman’s chain,” deputy commissioner (detective department) Soumen Mitra confirmed.
The crime by a man in uniform, admitted senior Calcutta Police officials, would do the force’s image no good. “Whenever we try to enthuse our men into performing better, we are thwarted by the black sheep within the force,” one of them said, referring to the latest blot on the organisation.
Chakraborty, belonging to the wireless department, was on duty at Shyambazar from 10 pm on Tuesday. Around 3 am, he intercepted a car that was being driven by a businessman (name withheld on request), who lives in Cossipore, in north Calcutta.
The sergeant first asked the businessman to step out of the car. When he refused to do so, Chakraborty accused him of “reeking of alcohol”. He would, therefore, have to pay a fine of Rs 2,000.
The businessman protested. He was returning from a relative’s home in Howrah, he said, and added that he had not touched a drop of alcohol.
Chakraborty insisted that the businessman would have to pay the fine and give him the papers of his car. But the sergeant also offered him an exit route — he could just pay Rs 1,500 and speed off, without insisting on any receipt or challan.
The businessman refused this deal, too. It was then that Chakraborty snatched his gold chain. Then came another offer — the businessman could get the chain back provided he paid up Rs 1,500 on Friday evening, when he would be waiting in front of an eatery on Park Street.
Left with no option, the businessman went home. The first thing he did next morning was go to Lalbazar and lodge a complaint with the anti-rowdy section. Officials — after intervention from the highest levels of Lalbazar — advised the businessman to keep the rendezvous.
A posse of plain-clothed policemen lay in wait for sergeant Chakraborty at the appointed spot on Friday evening.
True to his word, he came to “return” the businessman’s chain for Rs 1,500. The sergeant was arrested while accepting the money, officials said.