At 9.50 AM on Tuesday, when an 18-year old Higher Secondary examinee approached the help desk of the Shyambazar traffic guard and pleaded for assistance he hardly had any hope left of reaching his exam centre on time.
Any Calcuttan knows that covering a distance of 2.2 kilometres in under five minutes, that too while negotiating weekday morning rush-hour traffic through the congested roads of North Calcutta, is a tryst with impossibility.
Yet, what happened over the next five minutes is still a breeze for the student who managed to reach his destination with nearly five minutes to spare before the entry gates shut, thanks to some prompt effort put up by an Inspector of Calcutta Police traffic guard who set up a green corridor to rush the panic-stricken examinee to his exam centre.
Prosenjit Chatterjee, officer-in-charge of the Shyambazar guard, was on duty at the busy five-point crossing when he was approached by the examinee about to sit for the test on its very first day, disheveled and nervous, asking how he could reach Raghumal Arya Vidyalaya under the jurisdiction of the Ultadanga Traffic Guard down south before the entry gate was scheduled to shut at 10 AM.
It took Chatterjee a moment to decide how he could help the student in distress. “The officer quickly put the student in his vehicle and radioed the signaling posts at all the traffic intersections till Haatibagan to provide him a green corridor. He also contacted the Ultadanga traffic guard for the same assistance beyond Haatibagan since that area came under a different traffic jurisdiction. By the time he reached the exam centre and ensured the student was comfortably inside, the latter still had five minutes in hand before the exams started,” said a Kolkata Police official, asking not to be named.
“All this while, in between negotiating city traffic and keeping one eye on his wrist watch, Chatterjee counselled the panic-stricken student and gave him some much-needed encouragement and reassurance,” the officer informed, adding: “We were happy and relieved that we could help a citizen on a very important day in his life”.
Asked whether this was an exceptional instance of Calcutta Police opening up a green corridor to aid a student when such instances are witnessed only during VVIP movements, dire medical emergencies and organ transplants, the officer was reluctant to attach too much importance to the move. “We can open up the traffic signaling system for any kind of emergencies. Most of the time we decide on the spot if such a step needs to be taken depending on the nature of the emergency we are trying to address. On this occasion, we felt this was a fit case to assist a citizen whose entire life could have been affected if he failed to reach his destination on time,” he stated.
In a separate incident which happened around the same time and on the same day, Sergeant Anupam Chakraborty of the Ultadanga traffic guard pillion rode an examinee from the Indrani Memorial Girls’ School in the Kankurgachhi area all the way up to her residence at Shantinagar, Beliaghata to collect her examination admit card which she had forgotten at home and drove her back to her exam centre. Chakraborty ensured that the student was back within 30 minutes before the exams started.
The narration of the incidents on Calcutta Police’s social media pages have, understandably, grabbed eyeballs with over 4.5K people reacting and offering more than 400 comments on Facebook while the organization’s Twitter handle attracted 65.5K views and over 160 retweets. Even as people congratulated the officers for rising to the occasion a significant number of comments criticized the students concerned and their parents for showing “lackluster attitude towards the vital examination” they are appearing for.