It is no reflection on the professionalism of Kolkata’s new Police Commissioner that the force has egg dripping down its face with two ugly developments since February 1, the day on which Mr Soumen Mitra assumed charge.
First, policemen can’t be expected to run the other way when they have to countenance the rampant hurling of stones by the defiant Leftist student activists, coupled with the removal of barricades that were put up quite obviously to stall the Nabanna Abhiyan.
This is one of the basics that the Left leadership ought to have been aware of when it called a 12-hour Bangla bandh and over which it has now sought a judicial probe. The lathicharge is alleged to have killed a DYFI activist, Maidul Islam Middah; the “unabated offensive” with batons is said to have led to kidney failure eventually causing death.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was remarkably prompt while visiting Middah’s family; she has even promised compensation and a job for the next of kin. The plot thickens with the police filing cases against 250 young activists of the Left parties and their leaders.
While it shall not be easy to come up with an alibi on the death of Middah, still less to cite cardiac failure, it must just as fairly be admitted that Left leaders should not have allowed matters to reach such a head. Violence has no place in the democratic engagement.
While the police is alleged to have gone on overdrive at Dorina Crossing, they were left red-faced when a group of para teachers waded across the historical Tolly’s Nullah or Adi Ganga, if you will, that skirts the southern fringes of the city, including the residence of the Chief Minister, there to hand over a memorandum to Miss Banerjee to buttress their demand for timely increments and higher pay.
Tuesday’s adventurism has brought into focus the imperative of tightened vigil in a high-security zone. As it turned out, even the security personnel, who form a cordon sanitaire around the Chief Minister’s home, were quite obviously taken unawares.
How could the “intruders” step into the water unnoticed? It required the Police Commissioner and a bevy of senior officers to visit the area and ensure that security was beefed up after the arrest of five people.
The question that has virtually stumped Lalbazar, the Divisional Commissioner’s office, and also of course Bhowanipore police station is how the para teachers could hoodwink the police on duty around the Chief Minister’s residence and the Alipore Correctional Home. As Mr Mitra steps into his new job, there are several aspects of policing he will have to look into.