| An artist’s impression of the courtroom
Calcutta, June 30: Eighteen months after traffic sergeant Bapi Sen was beaten to death on tram tracks in central Calcutta, five constables were today pronounced guilty of murder and of outraging the modesty of a woman.
Tomorrow, judge Basudeb Majumdar will declare the punishment after listening to the prayers of the five accused — Sridam Bauri, Madhusudan Chakraborty, Pijush Goswami, Mujibur Rehman and Sekhar Mitra.
Bapi Sen’s widow Soma said of the guilty verdict: “My husband cannot be returned to us.… We only want society to benefit… I don’t want anyone else to suffer the way I did.”
At the year-end of 2002, Bapi Sen, an officer of the 1991 batch from the Tollygunje Traffic Guard, died while protesting against lewd comments being passed by five youths at a woman.
The 34-year-old had gone out with four friends for a New Year’s eve dinner and was travelling in a taxi when, around 1 am, he spotted the group teasing the woman riding pillion on a motorcycle.
Bapi Sen rushed out and confronted the gang, only to be beaten ruthlessly till he slumped to the ground. After five days in coma, he died in a private hospital, leaving behind his wife and two sons who are now nine and two-and-a-half years old.
The case that shocked Calcutta was handed over to the homicide wing of the detective department in the first week of January 2003.
Sixty-nine days into the probe, investigating officer Atanu Bandopadhyay submitted the chargesheet against the five constables held guilty today by the 12th judge of the city civil and sessions court.
The policemen — all five belong to the reserve force of Calcutta police — had killed one of their colleagues.
| Bapi Sen
When the verdict was announced in the afternoon, one of the accused, Sridam Bauri, broke down. Co-accused Pijush Goswami, his red T-shirt the colour of defiance, responded with a smile.
The courtroom was packed with lawyers, journalists and relatives of the accused. Pijush’s elder brother, despondently shaking his head, mumbled: “My brother is innocent.”
Bapi Sen’s brother Anup had also turned up to hear the verdict. But he stood outside, holding an umbrella over his head as it had started raining.
He said the family had been waiting in hope to hear this judgment since the killing. “This will not lessen the grief of the family, but it will at least show society that justice exists,” he said, before leaving to convey the news to the family.
Back at the Sen home at Behala’s Parnasree Pally, mother Menoka was not even aware that today was the day of judgment. First the tears came streaming down. Then she wondered in disappointment why the woman, to protect whose honour Bapi Sen died, had not come forward.
“She should have stood up for the one person who saved her life.… She could have at least called once,” Menoka said.
The courtroom drama began around 11.35 am when the accused were brought in amid unprecedented security. The police were all over — on the ground floor, in the corridors, at the entrance to the fourth-floor courtroom and inside.
Once the five were ushered in, the doors were shut to visitors. But they opened for an official to announce the session would be delayed.
The police decided to take the accused to the court lock-up on the ground floor.
Around 1.10 pm, the gang of five was brought back. “I am extremely sorry for the inordinate delay…,” the judge said before starting to analyse the statements of the prosecution and the defence.
He carried on for the next 50 minutes till one of the lawyers pleaded for the verdict.
“The prosecution has successfully proved the charge…,” the judge declared.