A group of armed soldiers — angry at the arrest of two of their officers on molestation charges — attacked Park Street police station early on Monday morning. The soldiers beat up policemen and ransacked the police station, injuring a civilian too.
Trouble began at 11 pm on New Year’s Eve when Major Chandra Pratap Singh allegedly started misbehaving with a woman at Park Hotel. When his behaviour didn’t improve despite repeated warnings, the hotel’s security guards intervened.
An inebriated Singh allegedly assaulted them, but was overpowered by the guards and taken to Park Street police station along with another drunken soldier, identified only as Captain Mahesh. Both belong to the 3 Madras Regiment.
Singh’s behaviour didn’t improve at the police station. He misbehaved with the officers and civilians there, manhandling Parnapriya Biswas of Sonarpur, who was there to register a missing persons complaint.
Police suspect there were other soldiers with Singh and Mahesh who managed to slip away from the hotel and inform their colleagues.
At 1.30 am, police officials said, three cars screeched to a halt in front of the police station and at least 15 armed soldiers, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Pratap Singh and Major Kavi, started ransacking the police station.
The attack left the chamber of Additional Officer-In-Charge Tenzing Bhutia in disarray. Phone lines, broken furniture, files and glass lay strewn on the floor.
Sub-Inspector B. Kundu was beaten up, while Traffic Sergeant Bimal Khatua was hit on the head with a rifle butt. He was rushed to Kolkata Police Hospital in a critical condition. One soldier snatched the keys to the lock-up and let Singh and Mahesh out.
By the time Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Ajay Kumar and Joint Commissioner of Police Kuldeep Singh reached the spot, the soldiers had fled.
Nine civilians arrested for creating a nuisance also managed to escape. Kolkata Police Commissioner Prasun Mukherjee condemned the attack, while the army formed a three-member team led by Colonel M. C. Baruah to inquire into the matter. Baruah refused to comment, saying “it was too early” to do so.