Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee came down heavily on state police saying a section of officers had been using civic volunteers to harass people, taking money and slapping cases in the name of ‘Safe Drive Save Life’ initiative.
Earlier, Banerjee had highlighted that a section of public representatives was taking “cut money” from people for providing government schemes. Following her statement, various districts witnessed agitation over refund of “cut money”.
“I have a complaint against police. In the name of ‘Safe Drive Save Life’ so many cases are being slapped against people. ‘Safe Drive Save Life’ is a concept, an awareness drive. If there is violation of law, even on national highways, do take action. But in lanes and bylanes, if a person has Rs 400 in his pocket, Rs 200 is being taken away after slapping cases. This is happening throughout Bengal. Why is this happening?” Banerjee said while speaking at an administrative meeting in East Medinipur district.
Banerjee highlighted the matter in presence of Director General of Police Virendra and added that she had already discussed the issue with Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma.
“Please talk to your SPs and tell them to control the situation. The money is being taken through civic volunteers, who are being instructed to get hold of a car and take money. Everyone is complaining. I have already asked Anuj (Kolkata Police Commissioner) to take care of the issue. If someone does something wrong, action should be taken. But so many cases are being slapped against the people. We need to be humane,” said Banerjee.
“The civic volunteers are not as trained as policemen. But inspectors in-charge are asking them to go and charge money by slapping cases. Not all of them are bad, only a section of them is,” said Banerjee.
After the ‘Safe Drive Save Life’ initiative was launched, both Kolkata and Bengal Police have been putting up check points almost every day to crack down on errant drivers. In Kolkata, special drives were being conducted after there were reports of incidents of harassment of women by bikers, including the case where former Miss India Universe Ushoshi Sengupta was a victim.
“Officers should take responsibility for this. If needed, install CCTV cameras on the road from Kolaghat to Digha and monitor it centrally. We are against rough driving. But one should be counselled and alerted for the first two instances. Take action, if something happens on the third count. Police is the face of the government, and if they do something wrong the government’s image is tarnished,” said Banerjee.
Meanwhile, after attending the administrative meeting, Banerjee stopped at a local tea stall in Digha. She brewed tea for her cabinet ministers and added sugar. She then asked the tea tall owner to add milk and serve it to ministers Suvendu Adhikary and Subrata Mukherjee and party MP Sisir Adhikary. She also handed over tea cups to her ministers and herself had a cup of tea.
“I am a common man and I love doing other things besides work. I also make tea at home. Today, I made tea for my ministers. I want to remain a common man,” Banerjee said.