5 in parking racket net

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By OUR BUREAU
  • Published 4.07.13
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Five men have been arrested over the past seven days in various parts of the city for allegedly collecting parking fees illegally.

In a bid to encourage people to come forward and lodge complaints about extortion in the name of collecting parking fees, Calcutta traffic police have uploaded on Facebook the photographs and details of two of the arrested persons.

They are Nitai Bhuian, 20, who was nabbed from Rawdon Street on Tuesday, and Swapan Sarkar, 37, who was picked up from near a restaurant on Strand Road. The accompanying posts request people to report such incidents and promise “stringent action”.

None of those arrested worked for any agency entrusted with collecting parking fees.

The arrests followed a special police drive across some of the busiest pockets in the city, triggered by a large number of complaints lodged with traffic guards or posted on Facebook.

The five men, all of whom were allegedly collecting parking fees without issuing a proper slip, were picked up from opposite a star hotel on JL Nehru Road, Strand Road, Brabourne Road, Mahatma Gandhi Road and Rawdon Street. The accused have been charged with extortion and remanded in police custody.

“We realise that this (illegal collection of parking fees) is a menace and have identified vulnerable areas based on complaints from commuters and tip-offs by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation. The drive will continue,” said Supratim Sarkar, joint commissioner of police (traffic).

Senior officers, however, said running parking lots was the responsibility of the civic body, and not the police, and extortion gangs often infiltrate the agencies assigned with collecting parking fees. The streets around South Point High School in Ballygunge have been identified by both the police and civic body as a hotspot for such extortion.

“I often have to travel to Burrabazar and end up paying much more than the regular parking fee as finding parking space there is difficult,” said Dhruv Shah, a senior executive in an auditing firm.