The bouquets he received from his law-enforcement brigade on Sunday were fine, but they came from hands that had pushed away an old woman to let his convoy pass a few days ago. And the chief minister was not pleased. He was, in his own words, “embarrassed and ashamed”.
If the Calcutta Police Association thought bringing Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to address its annual meet on Sunday would redress some of its members’ service and pay-related grievances, it was sorely mistaken. Instead, members of the association — as also Calcutta Police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty — got a bitter dose of dos and don’ts from the boss of the home (police) department.
“Only a few days ago, while returning home, I saw an old woman being shoved away carelessly by a traffic constable at the Mullickbazar crossing,” Bhattacharjee said. “He did that to let my convoy pass but, frankly, I was ashamed and embarrassed.”
Bhattacharjee, who has time and again preached the importance of public relations to the police force, said the incident proved that a lot remained to be done in this area. “You must remember that, at night, you are the government,” he told the gathering at the Nilratan Sirkar Medical College and Hospital auditorium.
“You should go beyond your rulebooks to help the law-abiding citizen… Remember, if a person in the area within your jurisdiction suffers a heart attack at night, you are the only persons to whom he can turn for help. Do not refuse that help.”
The police force could work wonders if its members became “friends with the public”, stressed the chief minister.
Crime against women was another area where the force had scope to improve itself, Bhattacharjee said. “Please handle this area very carefully and sympathetically,” he told the assembly, warning of a “trend of rise in such crimes”.
Referring to the Goaltor incident some months ago, in which there were allegations that policemen had looked away as men were looted and women molested, Bhattacharjee had a stern message for his force: “Action has been taken against the errant policemen. Be careful how you handle such crimes.”