Calcutta, July 10: The five policemen accused of murdering sergeant Bapi Sen were being tried at Banskhal Court today when the chief minister told the Assembly only four of the 150 policemen charged with criminal activities between 1998 and 2002 had been convicted.
Though Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee drew the attention of the House to crime committed by the protectors of law, he also reminded that police was not the only profession involved in criminal activities. “Crime is being committed by doctors, engineers and others. But crime committed by the police bears special significance because they are supposed to check it and should not be involved in any sort of criminal activity,” he said.
A gang of constables hit Sen with beer bottles and pushed him on tram tracks in central Calcutta on the last night of last year when he protested their teasing a girl riding pillion on a motorcycle. Sen did not survive his colleagues’ assault.
The formal trial of the five constables started today.
In his reply to the debate on the police budget, the chief minister made it clear that a section of policemen was involved in crimes. “We will hand out stringent punishment to those who are dishonest and involved in crimes. We will do nothing to protect them and it is also not our job to do so,” he said.
Between 1998 and 2002, seven policemen were arrested for their alleged involvement in murders and 12 policemen were facing rape charges. Eight of them were constables, said Bhattacharjee. Two policemen were involved in dacoities during this period and 10 were facing trials for snatching.
Chargesheets had been issued against 100 police personnel of whom seven state police officials were proved innocent in court, the House was told. Four were proved guilty and 89 policemen are still facing trial.
To stem the rot in the system the government has decided to embark on educational programmes. They will help weed out corruption and crime from the force, it believes. “The government is organising sports for the policemen and trying to involve them in cultural activities so that they realise their role in the society,” said Bhattacharjee.
The chief minister admitted that people had lost faith in local police stations. “The police should change their mindset. They should realise that they are not functioning under British colonial rule but in a free and Independent country,” he said.
Shibdas Mukherjee, the only Trinamul Congress MLA present, violating his party’s decision to boycott the Assembly, wanted to know whether the government had a plan to compensate the families of policemen who had committed suicide after their leave applications were rejected.
Bhattacharjee avoided a straight reply. “I am aware about only one such case,” he said.