20 February 2016
Three policemen and two home guards were suspended on Saturday for taking bribes from truck drivers while on night patrol.
The policemen were identified after Metro published a report on Friday on how cops collect bribes from truck drivers within the city and on the fringes. The report, accompanied by photographs, mentioned the locations and the time these were taken.
Sources in Lalbazar, the headquarters of Calcutta police, said new commissioner of police Rajeev Kumar had asked the deputy commissioners of several divisions to identify the policemen seen in the photographs.
"We checked the duty rosters and identified three constables and two home guards. All five were placed under suspension. A departmental inquiry has been ordered against the constables," a senior police officer said.
The names of the suspended cops have not been released.
The policemen could lose their jobs if found guilty in the internal inquiry.
Over a couple of hours last Tuesday night, Metro had come across uniformed policemen collecting bribes from trucks at Ballygunge, Esplanade, Maidan and CR Avenue.
An alleged attempt to extort money from a driver had led to a tragedy barely 36 hours earlier, when a truck fleeing a police vehicle on Belghoria Expressway hit four schoolboys, killing three and crushing another's leg.
The fourth boy died at a city hospital on Saturday.
Police chief Kumar has issued several instructions as part of the plan to keep an eye on police personnel deployed on city roads at night.
"The control room in Lalbazar will keep tabs on policemen through CCTVs installed at several intersections in the city. Police personnel will not be allowed to stop trucks randomly without permission from the control room," an officer said.
But as the officer pointed out, cops on duty at night often stop trucks away from intersections to take bribes.
"A CCTV camera's range is around 100 metres from the point where it is installed," said an officer. "The officers-in-charge of police stations have been ordered to monitor whether police personnel are stopping trucks between intersections. If someone stops a truck away from the surveillance area, there would otherwise be no way of knowing that such a thing is happening," he said.
The control room in Lalbazar has been asked to report to senior officers if they see cops taking bribes from truck drivers. "If any man in uniform is found taking money, he will be suspended immediately," the officer said.
Kumar has also asked for guardrails to be placed near intersections in such a way that they are in the line of vision of CCTV cameras, sources said.
Police personnel have been asked not to stand close to the guardrails, which are primarily meant to reduce the speed of vehicles.
A section of police officers said the sight of men in uniform taking bribes from truck drivers had embarrassed the force.
"We lose respect because of incidents like this. Our new commissioner has realised the need to take strong corrective action and that is a priority," a senior officer said.