The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Quest for food atop the bridge

Look, there's a man up there' It was high drama at high noon on Thursday as a man clambered up to the topmost point of Rabindra Setu (Howrah bridge) and stayed put for two-and-a-half hours. Traffic was reduced to a trickle, as pedestrians stopped and stared, and those in passing vehicles gaped at the unusual sight.

It took four Calcutta Port Trust (CPT) personnel to bring the 'mentally-deranged man' down from his vantage point, 280 ft above sea (or rather, river) level, on the main pillar of the bridge.

Before being taken away to Golabari police station for questioning, the dishevelled man in a lungi told Metro: 'I have no one' I live on the streets' I had gone up there in search of food.'

This is the fourth instance since 1980 of someone climbing up the bridge by the stairs used only by maintenance personnel. Some vegetable-sellers were the first to notice the man climbing up the bridge around 12.30 pm. They alerted the police and then a fire services team was called in. As the number of policemen and firemen grew, the crowd count also swelled. With the man making no move to climb down, four CPT personnel climbed up to join him.

'He only agreed to climb down when we assured him of one square meal,' they later said. A 150-ft hydraulic ladder was used to bring him down the final stretch.

Assistant superintendent of police Devendra Prasad Singh said: 'After initial interrogation, the man appears mentally deranged; but his clarity of thought on some counts is good. If he is proved mentally deranged, we will get him checked by a psychiatrist and then send him to the lunatic asylum at Gobra. Otherwise, we will have to produce him in court.'

Brushing aside talk of lax security at such a critical landmark, Singh said: 'This is a stray incident. There was no laxity on the part of police.'

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