The inspector-in-charge of Baguiati police station and an assistant sub-inspector, who was the investigating officer in the kidnapping of Atanu Dey and Abhishek Naskar, were suspended on Wednesday, hours after chief minister Mamata Banerjee expressed her displeasure over the role of police.
At an administrative meeting, sources said, Mamata asked about the “lack of coordination” between various units of the police that led to the delay in locating the 16-year-olds, who were found dead in a canal.
“Why this negligence? Why such lack of coordination between units in the police? The prime accused should be booked within seven days, or exemplary action will be taken,” the chief minister is said to have told the meeting at Nabanna on Wednesday.
After the meeting, minister Firhad Hakim told reporters: “We are there with the family. The chief minister is extremely pained by the incident. The accused persons will face exemplary punishment and no one will be spared. The chief minister has instructed the DGP. The police station where the FIR was lodged should have been more proactive. Hence, the IC has been removed and the probe has been handed to the CID.”
Chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi later said: “The inspector-in-charge of Baguiati police station and the investigating officer, an assistant sub-inspector, have been suspended.”
Atanu and Abhishek, who were first cousins, went missing on August 22. Their bodies were found the next day in Basirhat in North 24-Parganas but were identified only on September 6.
The boys’ families, residents of Baguiati in northeast Kolkata, have alleged that the police had initially refused to register a complaint and were negligent in pursuing the case.
When The Telegraph asked the deputy commissioner (detective department) of the Bidhannagar commissionerate, Biswajit Ghosh, on Wednesday why the police were not probing allegations that a section of Baguiati police had sought money for the probe, he said: “We are getting to know this from you. We will initiate action and start proceedings against anyone involved if family members file a written complaint.”
Told that the allegations levelled by the families were already in the public domain, Ghosh cited protocol and said they could only start proceedings after getting “a specific written complaint”.
The families, however, were not happy with the explanation.
“The fact that two officers have been removed proves that prima facie senior officers have found some negligence in the role of Baguiati police. If they could be removed without any formal complaint, why cannot the charges of bribery be probed without a complaint from the family?” asked a relative of Atanu’s family.
“Our children are gone. What more do the police expect us to do? They took the money but did nothing. My brother gave them (the police) Rs 20,000 and asked them to ensure the boys’ return,” Abhishek’s mother Kamala said.
Bidhannagar police commissioner Supratim Sarkar did not take calls or respond to text messages sent on Wednesday evening seeking his reaction on the matter.
Four men have been arrested in the case, but prime suspect Satyendra Chowdhury and the man who was at the wheel of the car in which the boys were allegedly murdered are at large.
The families said Atanu had paid Satyendra, their neighbour, Rs 50,000 to buy a second-hand bike. The vehicle was never delivered.