The Telegraph
Sunday , March 30 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

An official’s wail that police won’t hear

Calcutta, March 29: Similar scenes have played out countless times on screen, stereotyping the Indian politician.

Now a memo sent by a bureaucrat to Bengal police has offered an extraordinary and unvarnished peek into a system that is expected to purse its lips and betray no emotions.

The memo or complaint by a block development officer (BDO) in North 24-Parganas recounts alleged treatment at the hands of an MLA for removing “some festoons, banners and flexes with the Honble C.M.’s photographs” from public places because of the model code of conduct for the polls.

At one point, the memo says that “the MLA and his team” warned the model code of conduct officials: “Mundu kete maati te phele debo, pa kete nebo station-e (We will behead you and cut off your legs at the station).”

A Congress candidate in Uttar Pradesh, accused of making a similar threat to “chop Narendra Modi into pieces”, was arrested last night.

As many as four days have passed since the BDO of Habra-II in North 24-Parganas had lodged a complaint with the police. But till Saturday afternoon, no action was known to have been taken on the complaint.

The contents of the memo are allegations at this stage and only a police investigation and eventual legal proceedings can establish their merit.

But some officials said they were not even sure if the original complaint, a copy of which is with The Telegraph, remains intact or has been changed subsequently. They expressed such apprehensions because rarely before has an alleged assault by a public representative been chronicled in such detail by a serving officer and forwarded to the police.

The complaint to the Ashoknagar police station, dated March 26, is attributed to the “Block Development Officer, Habra-II Development Officer” and carries a signature.

The Habra-II BDO is Dinabandhu Gayen, who was unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts by this newspaper for three days. Officials close to him said that the 53-year-old officer, who has a heart condition, has had a nervous breakdown after the alleged assault.

The MLA who has been named in the complaint, Dhiman Roy of the Trinamul Congress, said in response to a question: “It is true that we went to his office and before that I called him. But it is not true that I assaulted him or abused him or his officials.”

In the complaint, the BDO said the MLA of constituency number 101 (Ashoknagar) barged into his office and abused, assaulted and detained him for removing the pictures of the chief minister.

The pictures were part of Trinamul campaign material (which is not against the rule) but were allegedly placed on PWD-maintained roads (which is not permitted). In the 2004 general election, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s pictures were removed along the Golden Quadrilateral under the same rule.

The BDO’s complaint also refers to the phone call mentioned by the MLA. “In view of this removal, the MLA… abused me on 25-03-14 over telephone by saying ******* *******, ***** (invectives in Bengali) etc….

“…thereafter the MLA with his team reached my office and entered my chamber by kicking at the door very roughly and assaulted me physically and insulted me in the same way in my office chamber in presence of my office employees and they also confined me to my office chamber for quite some time.

“Besides above, the MLA and his team threatened me by saying that the removed flexes, banners, festoons etc, have to be set up once again in the earlier position.”

On Friday, officials in the district administration could not shed light on the status of the complaint.

“I cannot say anything. Please ask my superiors,” said Sanjeeb Senapati, OC, Ashoknagar police station. The BDO’s complaint was addressed to the OC.

Sources in the police administration said that the general diary book at the Ashoknagar police station did not have any mention of this complaint though the charges against Roy and 25 others were cognisable in nature.

District magistrate Sanjay Bansal pleaded ignorance about the complaint for days. Asked again on Friday evening, he said: “I have just received the complaint. I will look into it and ask the police super (superintendent) to take appropriate action.”

A senior officer not connected with the case said that the police should have drawn up an FIR on the basis of the complaint and arrested the accused on charges of preventing public servants from discharging their duty, besides criminal intimidation and voluntarily causing hurt.

As the incident took place after the model code of conduct came into effect, the district administration should have also forwarded the complaint to the Election Commission.