The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Phone rings, death answers

Calcutta, Nov. 16: It was 15-20 minutes past 11 am and the chief minister was talking about setting up a new forensic laboratory at Rajarhat.

“Rrring, rrring, rrring'”

“We need to infuse professionalism in the force,” Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee went on.

“Rrring, rring, rrring'”

Bhattacharjee stopped. Peering into the audience of about 1,000 serving and retired police officers, he asked the owner of the phone to switch it off.

“Rrring, rring, rrring'”

Now, the chief minister was losing his cool.

“The cellphone is ringing and he is not even aware of it. Perhaps, he is sleeping.”

Four officers sitting around him took a close look. One of them shook him by the shoulder and exclaimed: “God, I think he’s gone.”

“Sir, I think he is not well,” another said, addressing the chief minister.

Onar chikitsar byabostha korun (have him treated),” Bhattacharjee said.

R.N. Joardar was already dead.

According to doctors, Joardar, a retired deputy superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department, would have died nearly 20 minutes before his cellphone began to ring around 11.20 am when Bhattacharjee’s speech at the opening of celebrations of 100 years of the CID was drawing to an end.

Cellphones were ringing every now and then and the chief minister took it to be another such instance when Joardar’s phone sprang to life.

“I won’t take more than two minutes to finish my speech,” he said as soon as he realised someone in the audience was unwell and called out to Soumen Mitra, DIG (CID), to take care of him.

Officers who took Joardar to a private hospital were informed that he had suffered a heart attack after his blood sugar level dropped drastically.

“Doctors declared him ‘brought dead’. He had passed away while in his seat inside the auditorium,” said Rajat Majumder, the additional director-general of police and adviser to the state electricity board’s security and loss prevention unit.

After retirement, Joardar was serving the electricity board with charge of the Howrah circle for the past two years, overseeing the security and loss prevention cell.

“We informed the chief minister of Joardar’s death through his office later,” Mitra said.

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