What can restore people's faith in Calcutta police?
Recovery of stolen cell phones, thinks police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha.
The top cop at a crime conference on Tuesday asked his officers to focus on recovering stolen cell phones in an attempt to boost the police's image in eyes of the residents.
Kar Purkayastha's advice is an indirect admission that many people do not have confidence in the police.
"If you return a man's stolen mobile phone, unlike other cases he gets instant relief and does not have to make rounds of the court. Focus should be on recovering stolen mobile phones... that would help in improving the police's image in the eyes of the common person," an officer who attended the meeting at the Police Training School quoted the police commissioner as saying.
Kar Purkayastha was speaking to officers in charge of the 69 police stations under Lalbazar and IPS officers in the force.
He referred to the phone recovery statistics of the past month in his speech.
The south suburban division of the city police - which has recovered 55 mobile phones, the highest among the eight divisions, in the past month - has been asked to make a presentation on the feat at next month's crime conference.
Some officers present at the meeting saw in the reference to mobile phone recovery an attempt by the top cop drive home the point that people had lost faith in his force. A series of recent incidents have shown the force in poor light.
A sub-inspector was shot dead in daylight while on college election duty in Garden Reach. The police were on denial about the identity of the accused till news channels beamed pictures of the shooting. The attacker was an aide of the local Trinamul councillor.
The attacker was an aide of the local Trinamul councillor.
Another sub-inspector performing municipal election duty took a bullet from a ruling party goon. The mastermind was not captured even when the cops had their hand upon him, because his location was allegedly traced to a Trinamul councillor's office.
A police station situated in the heart of the city came under the attack of supporters of the ruling party. The police station was vandalised as officers, instead of stopping them, had run helter-skelter, including one ducking with a file to cover his head from attack. The assaulters after the "operation" had walked out of the police station unchallenged. The arrests that came later only exposed that the ones directly involved, including a local Trinamul leader close to an influential minister, were not touched at all.
The Calcutta's mayor's niece was caught violating traffic signal and then assaulting a cop who tries to book her. Instead of prosecuting the niece, it is the traffic cop who is sent for a "long leave."
For a force of 30,000-odd, it is expected that they rise above politics and perform their basic duties first that affects the common man in ways more then one, than try to win back people's confidence just by recovering their stolen mobile phones.
A senior officer this newspaper spoke to, however tried to shift the focus from the political impunity given to criminals, to the lack of sensitisation that the force suffers from. "I feel, the officers at the grassroots need more sensitisation to deal with the public...while registering a case or simply helping them on the roads. Mobile phone recovery could only be the beginning."
Time will tell if there is a change.