On New Year's eve, let's remember this traffic cop's sacrifice that made streets of Kolkata a little safer for women

Recalling the bravery of martyred Kolkata traffic police personnel Bapi Sen.

While most of us would be heading out to a party tonight to usher in the New Year, hundreds of police officials will be on watching over us, on patrol duty, keeping an eye on hooliganism or drunk driving, commonly seen during New Year’s Eve.

Every time an untoward incident happens, a question of safety arises in metros and it is the men in uniform, who become our favourite whipping child. But let’s take a moment for those who go out of their way to do their duty on such nights of revelry and are not even scared of taking on their own colleagues in the process.

We are talking about the ghastly incident that took place on the night of 31 December, 2002, in Kolkata’s Bowbazar area. Bapi Sen, a 32-year old traffic cop was beaten unconscious on the streets of Kolkata by five members of Kolkata reserve force for trying to protect a woman from their lewd remarks. Sen was not even on duty that night. He was out with his friends for dinner and was returning home in a taxi at around 1 am when he saw the policemen misbehaving with a girl riding pillion on a bike. He intervened. As a result the drunk policemen beat him for 20 minutes, hit him on his head and continuously punched and kicked him. His head hit the tram tracks, leaving him unconscious. He went into coma for six days. On 6 January, 2003 he succumbed to his injuries.

Unfortunately, the woman, Sen was trying to protect, didn’t testify or come forward to lodge a complaint. However, Sen’s sacrifice had caught the media’s attention and of the general public. In an investigation lasting for two months by the Detective Department of Kolkata Police, the sleuths was able to establish that the five policemen were indeed guilty of murder.

Telegraph quoted, Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner of police, detective department as saying:

 “The constables were saying ‘Shalake mere phel… Ekdom shesh kore de (Kill him… Finish him off)’ while beating up Bapi. They did not use any weapons, but kept punching and kicking him.”

Sridam Bauri, Madhusudan Chakraborty, Pijush Goswami, Mujibur Rehman and Sekhar Mitra – members of the reserve force of Kolkata Police were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Sessions court on charges of murdering Sen and “outraging the modesty of a woman”, a decision that was upheld by the Calcutta High Court in 2010.