The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tried for father’s unproven sin
- 15-year-old boy tormented by taunts from schoolmates

Calcutta, July 28: Subhadeep hasn’t had “My father is a thief” etched into his skin yet for all to see. His father’s crime hasn’t even been proved but the 15-year-old has already been tried and convicted as the son of a thief in the court of juveniles — his fellow students in school.

Fact is following fiction at Dankuni in Hooghly district where, like Vijay Varma (played by the smouldering Amitabh Bachchan) in the angry-young-man cult movie Deewar, Subhadeep is bearing the cross of the alleged sins of his father, a Calcutta State Transport Corporation employee accused of fraud.

Only, his shoulders are far frailer than street-fighter Bachchan’s were in the film. Front-ends of his shirt tied at the waist, Vijay Varma had mera baap chor hai tattooed on his forearm.

In customary manner, Calcutta police has failed to produce a chargesheet more than two years after the FIR was lodged (a chargesheet is supposed to be filed within 90 days of a “crime” being committed).

Such has been Subhadeep’s social torment that his mother, Rina Sarkar, has approached the highest chair in the state — that of the chief minister — to ensure that justice, whichever form it takes, comes fast. She has written two letters to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and, save a letter from his secretariat informing that Calcutta police has been asked to expedite matters, has not heard anything to reassure her.

Subhadeep’s father, Swapan Sarkar, was among 10 CSTC employees accused of defalcating Rs 18 lakh of government money. Working as a cashier at the corporation’s Maniktala depot, where a forged receipt was found after the money went missing instead of being deposited in a bank, Swapan was arrested by Phulbagan police with his colleagues in June 2001.

He stayed behind bars for about a fortnight and came out of police custody in July that year. But that was enough to destroy his son’s life in school.

“My classmates call my father a chor and have, of late, started heckling me outside school,” he said on Monday. “They don’t realise the cruelty of their joke,” said Subhadeep, a student of class IX at Garalgachha High School.

Rina wrote her first letter to Bhattacharjee in September 2002. Giving details of the allegations against her husband, she pleaded that the police be asked to speed up proceedings. “I am prepared for what may come — good or bad — but the indefinite delay is proving too much to bear,” she said.

“My husband is suffering from depression,” she wrote to the chief minister, requesting his intervention.

The chief minister’s secretariat replied, stating that the case had been referred to the commissioner of police, but that was the last she heard. Another letter she wrote this year has not elicited any response till date.

Detective department deputy commissioner Soumen Mitra said his officers were “very close” to filing the chargesheet. “The documents seized from the CSTC depot have been sent to an expert on handwriting and we are yet to get them back,” he added.

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