Grocery sellers for neighbourhood, arms dealers for cops

Relatives

Day after ASI shot, councillor says crime in Garden Reach down by 80%

The port area of Garden Reach is a den for criminals — so much so that over 90 per cent of the youth in the area are engaged in extortion and smuggling, according to police.

"Santoshpur and Rabindranagar have become hotspots of drug dealing and Bat Tala has become famous for arms exchange," said a senior police official. He said these activities were patronised by political leaders, mostly from the ruling party but some from the Opposition camp as well. "It is not possible to carry out these transactions without political patronage," he added.

It was in Garden Reach that ASI Tapas Chowdhury was shot dead during Tuesday's clash between Congress and Trinamool Congress student unions at Harimohan Ghosh college during filing of nominations for a student election.

After yesterday's incident, all the dealers of arms and narcotic substances have gone underground, police sources said. Many have a side business of dealing in groceries in the market on Karl Marx Sarani.

"It is very hot at the moment. We have to lie low for some time till things cool down, and then resume business," said a 20-plus youth.

A large part of the port area is virtually ruled by transport company owners. They hire young hands who double up as musclemen and work for different parties when needed.

"There are around 20 leading transport companies. If you are a new entrant here, you won't be able to load your consignment unless they are paid their cut. Some of the trailer drivers you will see are under 18. I wonder how they procured a heavy vehicle driving licence. And sometimes police cannot take any action — due to political pressure or because they end up forging a good relationship with these antisocials," he said.

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