Covid-19 sparks unrest in Kolkata Police, Governor Dhankhar tweets concern
West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar waded into the unrest in different establishments of the Kolkata Police this month with a tweet that the incidents have exposed chinks in the “historically impeccable” force.
“Men in uniform so stanching @MamataOfficial worrisome. Chinks getting exposed in historically impeccable @KolkataPolice,” the governor wrote in a tweet on Saturday.
Leader of the opposition in the Bengal Assembly and veteran Congress leader Abdul Mannan who met the governor on Saturday had also raised the issue.
“Leader of opposition Abdul Mannan also expressed his serious concerns over the recent incidents @KolkataPolice Training School, Garfa police station & last night unfortunate event at 4th battalion of armed police Bidhanagar,” tweeted Dhankhar.
Till Saturday, at least seven personnel of the Kolkata Police had been infected by Covid-19.
The unrest started on May 19, a day before Cyclone Amphan battered Kolkata and south Bengal districts. Around 500 personnel of the Kolkata Police Combat Force staged a demonstration at the Police Training School (PTS) alleging that they were being forced to share quarters with a colleague who had contracted the coronavirus disease. The men alleged that they were being sent to containment zones without adequate personal safety equipment.
The commandos allegedly ransacked the vehicle of their deputy commissioner Col Nevendera Singh Paul when he tried to talk to them and even assaulted him. On May 20, chief minister Mamata Banerjee visited PTS and addressed the agitated men even as Kolkata was being ravaged by the cyclone.
Senior Kolkata Police officials refused to speak on record on the incident. “The situation is now under control. That is more important,” said a deputy commissioner who is aware of the details.
In the second incident, some constables at Garfa police station vandalized office property on May 25 after one of their colleagues died in hospital of respiratory disease. They alleged that he was suffering from Covid-19 but was not sent for treatment on time. They called off the protest after senior officials intervened.
In the third incident, personnel of the fourth battalion of the Kolkata Armed Police force pelted stones and staged a demonstration inside their barrack at Salt Lake on Friday night, alleging that they were being forced to share the same rooms that had earlier been used by some infected colleagues. “This agitation, too, was tackled by senior officers,” said an officer who did not want to be identified.
No Trinamool Congress leader was willing to comment on the incidents since Mamata Banerjee is also the state’s home minister.
Unrest over infected people in Bengal is not limited to police barracks alone. On Saturday, there was a clash between two groups of villagers in the Uluberia area of Howrah district over allowing some migrant villagers, who recently returned from Maharashtra, to stay in the village. Police had to intervene and the migrants were shifted to a desolate building for quarantine.