It is the men in uniform providing security, who themselves feel insecure in Bengal now. They are facing assault from ruling party leaders, their relatives, workers and even commoners. Recently, the chief minister pointed fingers at the police in a case of rash driving and assault on a traffic constable where mayor Sovan Chatterjee's niece was involved.
Top officers feel that statements by the chief minister against the police would further deteriorate the force's morale.
HT spoke to a number of low ranking police officials all of whom expressed their concern and fear. They feel that the morale of a disciplined force is on the downslide. Officers also stated that it is time seniors, including the police commissioner, break their silence.
"Every day, we read in the newspapers that policemen are being beaten up. Those who are in-charge should ponder whether they are satisfied with the situation and where this is leading to," said Nirupam Som, former police commissioner of Kolkata.
"Our police commissioner and other higher officers should do something about this. There is not a word from the police commissioner. The chief minister, who is also the home minister, should send a strong message to the masses. Her statements against us will further lower our morale," said an officer attached to a police station in South Kolkata.
"We feel we are trapped. Every day, I fear it may be my police station next. My family is worried after the railway policeman was lynched and told me not to stick my neck out while on duty. We have all the powers to tackle this, but many of us wait for a signal from the top, which never comes. No one wants to be shunted out," said an officer in-charge of a police station in North Kolkata.
Instances of assault on cops include the vandalising of Alipore police station by Trinamool Congress backed goons in the recent past. Traffic cops are being slapped by not only political leaders but even rowdies. At some police stations, officers stated that they are now more careful before making arrests and in critical situations, they are even reluctant to take people into custody.
"We have asked our officers to first save themselves, then carry out duty. When people take law into their own hands, we catch them and then phone calls start pouring in and even political leaders pay us a visit. In most cases, we have to release the culprits. Now, there is a fresh trend of people targeting policemen on duty. If a man on a motor bike is stopped for not wearing a helmet, he simply slaps the constable," said an officer incharge of a police station in central Kolkata.
Police officers from OC's to sub-inspectors and constables stated that it is getting more and more difficult to maintain law and order. Be it routine patrolling, booking traffic offenders or even bigger crimes. Tackling law and order situation is getting extremely difficult, officers stated.