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Scars of hooch den bust - Police inertia gives crime upper hand in middle-class locality

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Staff Reporter   |   Published 14.06.05, 12:00 AM

Aparna Acharya and her family had the temerity to try and flush out from their locality criminals who ran hooch shops in the Zinjira Bazaar area, on the southern fringes of the city. Now they are paying a heavy price for it.

Last year, Aparna had persuaded husband Prangopal to buy a house in apparently-peaceful Zinjira Bazaar. ?The people were nice and the place was fine to settle down. Little did we know what lay in store for us,? recalled Aparna.

Then, quite a few country liquor shops sprang up right near their house, and it became difficult for local residents to venture out of their homes in the dark.

?It is not just a question of one family, but all of us. Our lives became hellish,? said a local resident. On certain occasions, local residents tried to get in touch with police but to no avail. ?Police did not help us at all, and finally we decided to take it upon ourselves to set the place free of criminals,? she added.

A few weeks ago, the residents decided to join hands with local clubs and dismantle the three country liquor shops that had come up.

Zinjira Bazaar police station was informed before action was taken. The Beledanga Pally Unnayan Samity, Ketopole Sammelani and residents of Beledanga together dismantled the shops.

But the criminals did not take things lying down and targeted local residents for daring to protest. Prangopal Acharya and Monoranjan Haldar, mostly, bore the brunt of their attacks.

The criminals first started throwing stones at their houses, breaking window panes and destroying their property. Later, the gang threw acid bulbs at family members and threatened them with dire consequences.

One May 30, Prangopal?s wife Aparna was injured when a stone struck her in the head, and she had to be rushed to the Port Trust Hospital for a CT scan.

Neighbours rushed to the police station, and the officers, in turn, arrested two youths, Barun and Tarun Roy, claiming that proper action had been taken. But the two were released a few days later.

?After coming out of the police lock-up, they have become very rowdy and have threatened us,? said a local resident. The neighbourhood wants the police to take action and arrest all the goons.

?We want some peace in the area. What are the law-keepers doing now?? wondered one of them.

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