For about a month from mid-November, he lived in ignominy, stripped of his uniform, denied his salary, shunned by family and friends. The charge: complicity in a criminal's escape from his custody.
But Nityananda Roy refused to say die, and vowed to redeem himself. On Wednesday, his mission to come clean was successful.
Roy, a lowly-paid constable of Calcutta Police, was posted at Maidan police station. He was suspended around mid-November after 28-year-old criminal Sheikh Firoz Raju, arrested following a Rs 2-lakh heist on a crowded bus, managed to escape from Roy's charge from state-run SSKM Hospital. Raju had been undergoing treatment there.
Slapped with a dereliction-of-duty charge, Roy was suspended indefinitely. But two decades of service could not be stripped off him so easily.
Though not in uniform, Roy would turn up at Maidan police station for the daily roll-call. There was no convincing him that he was not an 'on-duty cop'.
And he wasn't turning up for duty without a cause. Alone, he activated his sources. His one-point agenda: track down Raju and salvage the uniform.
The all-important tip-off came a full fortnight after Roy launched Mission Manhunt. 'In end-November, I received a tip-off that Raju had come to a hideout in Park Circus. I knew he was a drug addict. So, I used my network in and around that area. My plan worked,' said Roy.
Last week, Roy decided to make his move, in plain clothes. 'I knew if I could catch Raju, I would regain my lost honour,' said Roy.
'As soon as I reached the spot, I noticed a small huddle. When I went closer, most of the youth fled,' Roy recounted.
Then, Roy spotted Raju. 'He was sitting drunk. On seeing me, he started to run. I chased him,' he recalled.
'It was not a very long run. I pinned him down because he was in no condition to run.'
Roy then hired a taxi, dragged Raju into it and drove straight to Maidan police station.
He handed Raju over to officer-in-charge Asish Sengupta. On Wednesday, Roy was re-instated. The constable was back at his post on Thursday, this time in uniform, ready to bury the past.
Rewinding to the day he almost lost it all, Roy said: 'I was deployed on the first floor of SSKM Hospital. Raju told me that he wanted to go to the toilet and I escorted him. I asked him not to bolt the door and I stood guard in front of the toilet. When he did not come out even after 10 minutes, I entered and found the toilet empty. Raju had escaped through the ventilator hatch.'
After the slip-up came the suspension. 'I had no idea how to run my five-member family. My three children are still studying... I don't know what would have happened if Raju had managed to give me the slip again.'
Deputy commissioner (headquarters) Ranvir Kumar had a word of praise for the comeback constable. 'Roy has rectified a lapse on his part. As a policeman, he has carried out his duty and brought back a criminal who had escaped from his custody,' Kumar said on Thursday.