| RITES OF PASSAGE: Metro caught a home guard in the central business district on Monday afternoon, allowing slow-moving goods vehicles easy access into a no-go zone for a fee. The home guard is often the front-man for police extortion. Picture by Amit Datta
Mohammad Shahabuddin, 6, and brother Mohammad Azharuddin, 4, died on Saturday night under the wheels of a truck that probably rolled their way to escape police extortion on Canal West Road.
Joint commissioner of police (traffic) C.V. Muralidhar on Monday ordered a probe into the accident and promised action if any cop was found guilty of demanding a bribe.
But little in Calcutta Police's recent track record inspires any confidence in such promises.
As almost every major intersection comes alive at night with policemen on the prowl for paisa, the outstretched hand of the home guard is a common sight on congested stretches even during the day.
A few recent instances of police inaction:
On January 12, a traffic constable pocketed a bribe of Rs 2 at the Taratala crossing and allowed a truck to enter no-truck zone Taratala Road.
At 10.35 am, the truck collided with a taxi crammed with 10 passengers. Eight persons died, seven belonging to one family. Preliminary investigation proved that the heavy vehicle had passed the Taratala crossing illegally. The probe report failed to implicate the cops at the crossroad.
On March 1, a gang of police sergeants, instigated by a doctor attached with Calcutta Police Hospital, had roughed up two Sikh women and later beat up Akshay Gambhir, a Sikh businessman, on Gurusaday Dutt Road.
Joint commissioner (armed police) Zulfiquar Hassan submitted his report to commissioner Prasun Mukherjee within 48 hours, but no action has been taken. 'The case has been forwarded to another senior officer,' says Mukherjee.
On March 15, sub-inspector A. K. Saha, of Keorapukur police station, in South 24-Parganas, had 'misbehaved' with Rumki Chakraborty and Feroza Khatoon when they had gone to register a complaint.
'A departmental inquiry was conducted and Saha was found guilty,' said Vageesh Mishra, inspector-general of police (South Bengal).
Saha was not even show-caused.