By Arnab Mitra
Kolkata: The night-time National Highway is a ripe ground for police to extort bribes from truck drivers and other passers-by.
The video, taken on Sunday at the National Highway 34 in Barasat, West Bengal, clearly shows a policeman taking bribes from the truck drivers and other vehicles.
On being asked about this, the officer in charge at the Barasat Police Station reacted in a very casual manner: “Kato hanuman lonkay alo ar gelo, jatosob. Apni photo journalism na Kore CID join korun anek taka paben.” (A lot of monkeys have come and gone in Lanka. Maybe you should leave photojournalism and join the CID, you will get more money.)
Truck drivers live in fear of their license being snatched, and so do what they are asked without causing trouble.
Kamalesh Singh, a truck driver said, “We are forced to give bribes, else they will snatch our license.”
“Everyone knows about it. It will never change,” said the head of North 24 Pargana truck association, Anando Jana.
Truck owner Sangeet Jaiswal lamented the constant loss due to the bribes. “Kya batayein bhaiya, sara paisa urdi walon ko detey detey nikal raha hai. Police, politician, sab lok humare mehnat ka paisa kha rahe hain, aur hum bhookhey mar rahe hein. Gari ka maintenance, driver ka paisa, upar se police. Aur ab toh election reviews hone wala hai… aur bhi dena padega.”
(What to say brother… All the money goes in paying uniform wearing people. The police and politicians take all our hard earned money while we die hungry. Vehicle maintenance, fees for the driver, the police, and now election reviews are coming, so we will have to give even more.)
“Police are supposed to protect the people, but it is the sorry state of West Bengal that the police and politicians have joined hands in looting the common people,” said former BJP state president Rahul Singha.