The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cops take boy hostage
- Father missing, police pick up teen on eve of exam

Burdwan, Nov. 12: Bengal police 'punished' a son for a father's alleged crime for the second time in a month when they put 16-year-old Mahidul in the lock-up a day before his Class XII selection test.

Unable to trace Oli Mohammed, accused of power-tapping in a Burdwan village, the police yesterday took away Mahidul.

Two weeks ago, Hooghly police had picked up an alleged robber's 10-year-old son and put him behind bars along with hardened criminals after failing to find the father. The harassment of Raja, son of Mantu Kabiraj of Singur, had raised a storm of protest.

But the Kalna police team that raided Mohammed's home at Chowgheria ' about 160 km from Calcutta ' along with a group of West Bengal State Electricity Board officials couldn't care less.

Mahidul had to spend over seven hours in custody, from 4 pm till after 11 pm, before district superintendent of police Piyush Pande intervened on his behalf.

'As soon as I heard about the boy's detention, I asked the officials to release him,' Pande said this morning. 'We cannot punish the boy for his father's fault. I have ordered a probe and sought a report within 24 hours. Those responsible will be brought to book.'

A traumatised Mahidul, who still managed to write his exam today, said the police and electricity board officials had dragged him to the police station 'though I pleaded my innocence again and again'.

'When I asked why I was being detained, the electricity board officials told me in front of the policemen that I would not be released till my father was found,' the student of Annapurna Higher Secondary School said. 'How can I face my friends in the locality any more' Who will be at fault when my classmates make fun of me at school'

Subdivisional police officer Rabindranath Bhattacharya had a ready excuse: it was all the electricity board officials' fault. 'It was a joint raid; four electricity board officials came with us. We picked up the boy under instructions from them. So, don't blame us,' he said.

The board officials would have none of it. 'We had lodged a complaint against Mohammed for hooking and had later raided his home with some policemen. It was the policemen who brought his son to the police station when they could not find the father,' said Monojit Pal, zonal manager of the state electricity board's Burdwan circle.

Mohammed is still in hiding.

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