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24 May 2017

'Rogues' gallery awaits names - 24 hours on, cops who beat up journalists yet to be identified

Journalists walk in the protest rally in Calcutta on Tuesday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
"Brutal assault on police in the name of peaceful protest, we are identifying all such criminals and every guilty person will be booked," Calcutta police tweeted at 12.25pm on Tuesday.
TT, May 23: There was no missing the resolve in the force a day after 69 policemen were allegedly beaten up during a Left-sponsored protest rally.
In a rare display of wordplay, the Calcutta police Twitter handle also dripped sarcasm as a series of pictures carried the caption - Shatarup Ghosh protesting 'peacefully'!!! The pictures show a person resembling Ghosh hurling a stone.
The young CPM leader had contested unsuccessfully against Trinamul's Javed Khan both in the 2011 and 2016 Assembly polls.
The pictures were part of a plan to tell the world that the clashes between the protesters and the police were the fallout of an attack on the law enforcers. Ghosh could not be reached for a comment.
The police were quick to identify the assaulters as they had arrested 182 people by yesterday evening on a slew of charges that ranged from rioting to assault. Twelve of the arrested CPM supporters were produced in Bankshall Court today.
"We cannot let the police assaulters roam freely," said a senior officer, justifying the prompt action. He cannot be faulted as seniors in a disciplined force have the responsibility to protect the men and women who carry out their orders on the ground.
The responsibility, however, extends to the society at large, a retired IPS officer said.
"If the members of the force cross the limit and assault ordinary people without any provocation, it is the responsibility of the seniors to book them," he added.
The force that had gone to maintain law and order during the march yesterday was also accused of assaulting journalists - not once, not twice, but thrice - near the Mayo Road-Dufferin Road crossing. At least 25 suffered injuries and 14 of them had to be hospitalised.
The Telegraph today carried a picture of Indranil Bhaduri, a photojournalist of R-Plus news channel, being beaten up by at least four policemen while filming the police versus protester clash yesterday.
"No one from the police called me to know if I could identify the cops who assaulted me," Bhaduri told this newspaper this evening.
A closer look at the picture would reveal that identifying the cops was easy as their faces were clear. Sources in Lalbazar said no effort had been initiated to identify the men, who were seen encircling Bhaduri and raining batons on him.
None of the other injured journalists received any call from Lalbazar either.
"Additional commissioner (I) of police Vineet Goyal took my mobile number and my office number on the spot yesterday. But no one called me up," said Gopal Banik, a reporter with Onkar TV.
Some RAF personnel repeatedly slapped Banik while he was going live.
Mrityunjoy Biswas, a cameraman with Rajasthan Patrika, suffered cuts in the forehead after a police lathicharge, but he, too, was awaiting a call from the cops.
Goyal, who was leading the force on the ground on Mayo Road-Dufferin Road yesterday, had told the assaulted journalists yesterday: "If what you are saying is right, they have behaved like rogues and we will identify them. They will be taken to task."
More than 24 hours have passed since Goyal's promise, but Lalbazar did little more than repeating it this evening when a delegation of journalists went to meet Calcutta police chief Rajeev Kumar.
Over 400 journalists hit the Calcutta streets this evening to protest yesterday's unprovoked police assault on the reporters covering the Left rally yesterday.
In a silent rally, the journalists marched from Rabindra Sadan to the police headquarters.
Asked how he could explain the assault, Kumar said: "I have no explanation."
He, however, said "minimum use of force" was required to disperse the crowd yesteday.
On the question of action against members of his force, Kumar only offered the assurance of an internal inquiry.
"We will speak to all the injured journalists. We know that some senior journalists were verbally abused.... We would speak to them too and record the statements of the officers who were present there," Kumar said.
Till late this evening, the calls did not reach any of the journalists.
"One hundred and eighty people can be arrested for assaulting policemen.... But not a single person from the force could be identified even 24 hours after an incident. This explains the intent," said a retired IPS officer.

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