Calcutta, Aug. 6: A police sergeant was last night crushed under the wheels of a matador van speeding down the wrong lane on CIT Road to take a short cut.
Joydeep Chatterjee of First Battalion was returning home on his motorcycle with two constables ridding pillion after attending a reception. The Tata 407 hit him at the Padmapukur intersection of CIT Road and Dr Suresh Sarkar Road around 12.30 am.
The driver of the vehicle has been arrested but the question how a police sergeant could carry two pillion riders have left senior officers groping for an answer. Some eyewitnesses said the three policemen were drunk.
Chatterjee, 35, a resident of Scott Lane, was in charge of the IPS Mess at Bodyguard Lines. He was riding from the Park Circus end with constables Pappu Kumar Singh and Debasish Basak.
Witnesses said the van, which tried to enter Dr Suresh Sarkar Road without getting around the island, had almost crossed over when the motorcycle rammed into its rear end. While the constables went flying and fell on the road with a thud, Chatterjee went under the wheels. The impact on the 1995-batch sergeant's head was so hard that one of his eyes popped out.
'Initially, we could not make out what actually had happened,' said Mohammad Shakil Ahmed, a resident of the area.
'Then we heard groans and rushed out to find the motorcycle rider lying blood-splattered on the road, near the rotary. The two others were hurt in their arms, but it was nothing serious. We rushed the sergeant to Calcutta National Medical College.'
From the medical college hospital, Chatterjee was referred to SSKM Hospital.
Two constables posted off the intersection managed to stop the driver of the van.
'He was booked for rash driving, causing grievous hurt by endangering life, and death by negligence,' said a senior officer of the Beniapukur police station.
While last night's accident may be the driver's fault, local residents claimed that the intersection was a 'death trap' with no lights and no traffic police posted nearby.
'We have been telling the police that with the pujas around, the hundreds who turn up at the haat (local market) would be risking their lives, but in vain. The island should be made smaller and traffic signals placed there,' said Syed Asgar Hossian.
A year ago, another sergeant had died a few feet from the spot where Chatterjee was mowed down.
At home, Chatterjee's parents Dhirendranath and Usha struggled to take in the news. Wife Swaraj struggled to explain to Saranya ' all of three years old ' why her father was still to arrive.
'His father didn't want him to join the police, yet Joydeep was adamant and I supported him all the way. He stood first in the sergeants' examination,' said Swaraj Bannerjee, his uncle.