Police officer who stood up to Didi

It involves the alleged rape of a woman inside a car in Park Street,Kolkata’s most high-end area.

Written by Madhuparna Das | Kolkata | Published: April 6, 2012 3:40:39 am

In a massive reshuffle of 60 IPS officers in the Kolkata and Bengal police,one name stands out. Damayanti Sen,Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) in the Kolkata police,is among those transferred in what the state government calls a routine exercise.

Sen,who has been the Kolkata detective department’s first woman head,independently pursued an investigation into a case the chief minister herself had dismissed as fabricated. It involves the alleged rape of a woman inside a car in Park Street,Kolkata’s most high-end area.

When the allegation broke,Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described the incident as an “effort to malign the government”. The same day,Commissioner of Police R K Pachnanda declared that the incident had indeed been made up,to malign the image both of the police and of the state government. Since then,Mamata and many ministers kept saying the woman was lying.

Yet Sen continued investigating. “A crime has been reported. Something must have happened. We are investigating,” she said whenever she briefed the media. Following up the “elements of truth in the complaint”,her team finally cracked the case.

Now,the reshuffle has sent her to a Bengal police posting,as DIG (Training),which police sources describe as insignificant. It completes a fall from grace for a woman who had been elevated to star status after the arrest of the accused and her announcement that the rape had indeed happened.

In an indication of what was to follow,Sen was called by the chief minister to Writers’ Building where the latter is said to have mocked her for her “heroics”. After the meeting,Sen held a press conference with Jawed Shamim,Joint CP (HQ). “It’s being portrayed as if it has been an individual effort,” she said,“but it’s about the entire organisation with which I work. The detective department has cracked the case and it’s not any individual effort. It’s always a collective decision.”

She said the probe was not yet over. “The investigation is getting hampered because of all this. We are yet to arrest some culprits. So we sought a meeting with the chief minister today and discussed the matter.”

Sen had always maintained a low profile until the rape case changed all that. The woman allegedly raped called her a “Tigress”. A new community came up on a social networking website: “Our Pride Damayanti Sen — The Bengal Tigress”. The community’s 99 members include Taslima Nasreen,former tourism minister Manab Mukherjee,and director Anindita Sarbadhikari among many Bengal film industry figures.

At the press conference,she said she was disturbed by the attention she was getting,particularly by some media reports on her personal life. Since then,she has not spoken to the media. The press conference was two months ago and it is understood that the government kept the transfer waiting till the dust had settled down.

Sen is a 1996-batch IPS officer who becameDC,detective department,in 2009,before being elevated as Jt CP (Crime). An economics graduate from Jadavpur University,she was Assistant SP (Town) of South 24-Parganas and then additional SP before moving to the city’s detective department. She has also been DC (North) and DC (Central).

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