We, at Carblogindia, have always urged all two-wheeler riders to wear an ISI-approved helmet. Also, we have always lauded the traffic police for its efforts to nab the lidless riders and force them to start using a helmet by imposing hefty fines/suspension of driving license. However, a recent development in Kolkata makes us wonder if the authorities are anything but concerned about the welfare of a common road user. A scooter rider at Madhyamgram in North 24 Paraganas district of Kolkata has been allegedly beaten to death by local police volunteers. His crime? No helmet and a reluctance to pay a hefty fine.
Soumen Debnath, a local businessman, was reported riding his scooter without wearing a helmet. He was stopped by the civic police volunteers appointed on a contractual basis by the West Bengal Police. Debnath was asked to pay a hefty fine and his refusal led to a heated argument between him and the police volunteers. Finally, the cops started physically assaulting Debnath. He was reported slapped several times, dragged on the road and kicked by the volunteers. He suffered severe injuries and started bleeding profusely. Finally, he was shifted to a local hospital, where the doctors declared him dead.
The unfortunate incident enraged the locals, who chased the police volunteers and pelted stones at them. The volunteers had to take shelter in a nearby building. Finally, the police had to resort to a baton charge to disperse the crowd. C. Sudhakar, Superintendent of Police of North 24 Paraganas, has said that inquiries into this case are currently underway. He is also awaiting the post-mortem report to ascertain the cause of death. A person has been arrested under Section 302 (murder) of IPC.
The State Government of West Bengal has been actively promoting traffic safety under its ‘Safe Drive, Save Life’ campaign. The local authorities have been working overtime to enforce helmet usage for two-wheeler riders. To help them, they have appointed local police volunteers.