The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Foot force for Puja patrol

To safeguard puja shoppers from thugs, a team of plainclothes policemen is prowling the city’s crowded markets. But doing the rounds on foot in the sweltering heat is taking a toll on the cops.

Senior officials of Calcutta Police, detective department, have confirmed that two policemen have already reported sick, both with complaints of severe exhaustion in the heat.

The purpose of deploying plainclothes policemen on foot, according to senior Calcutta Police officials, was to let them mingle with the crowd and catch pickpockets and car thieves. But travelling from one market to the other on foot has left the cops in bad shape.

“It is unfortunate that we have to slog it out in the heat with no vehicles to help us. Several of our colleagues have already fallen ill and our patrol, which started a few days ago, has taken a beating,” said a team member on condition of anonymity.

Six teams of around 30 policemen have been instructed to keep an eye on shoppers and thugs at various markets, including Treasure Island, New Market, Shreeram Arcade, Emami Landmark and Gariahat.

The teams, each comprising five cops and led by a sub-inspector, has been told to “stay on foot and be on the move” at the shopping malls.

The “foot patrol”, consisting of Watch and Criminal Intelligence Wing personnel, will monitor the markets from 12 noon to 8 pm. The cops have also been asked to ward off criminal activities at night.

And to ensure that the men are doing as they have been instructed to, some senior Calcutta Police officials are keeping an eye on them from jeeps.

Apart from shopping arcades, the police teams are also keeping a vigil in the CIT Road, Entally and Park Circus areas.

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