Calcutta, May 8: Two months after a 26-year-old man was knocked down and left to die on the road, it has been established that the killer vehicle was a hired police pool car packed with off-duty policemen.
Officials said today that an inquiry had revealed that several policemen were inside the car that had violated traffic rules and mowed down the young man, Rajesh Mahato, on February 20 near New Market police station.
The policemen kept quiet as the driver sped away. 'We have reason to believe that a few off-duty policemen even asked the driver to speed away because they felt nothing serious had happened,' a police officer said.
The very next day, in the face of allegations that the car was associated with the force, senior police officers in the city had issued a statement denying that the vehicle belonged to any of them.
However, following intense pressure from people in the neighbourhood, the driver of the vehicle was tracked down, arrested and the story was eventually pieced together.
'It was a vehicle hired by police,' said Arun Kumar Sharma, deputy commissioner of police, traffic department.
Officers who conducted the probe said the police vehicle had entered S. N. Banerjee Road violating traffic rules and hit Mahato. The police vehicle was heading towards east ' vehicles on that road are supposed to ply only from east to west, an officer said.
Mahato, who hailed from Bihar and was running a paan shop, had stepped on the road at 11.15 pm and was hit by the vehicle from behind almost immediately.
Since it was a one-way street, he might not have looked towards the west, an officer said.
Mahato’s death had triggered mob violence in front of the police station, forcing the police to burst tear gas shells and eventually fire in the air.
A posse of senior officers, including an additional commissioner and a joint commissioner, had to be sent to the spot. They promised a probe to pacify the crowd which suspected that a police vehicle was responsible for the death.
Officials associated with the probe refused to identify the policemen who were in the car but said departmental proceedings could be initiated against them on ethical grounds.