As nearly 30 protesting teaching job aspirants, arrested by Kolkata Police Wednesday night on charges of “rioting and unlawful assembly”, were released on bail on Thursday, a controversy of a woman constable allegedly biting a woman protester broke out.
Videos of the constable grabbing 41-year-old Arunima Paul’s hand and biting her were shared on social media. Police said Arunima bit the constable first.
“They kept us at the police station and then in the lock-up for several hours. I didn’t even receive first-aid for several hours,” said Arunima while being taken to court.
Arunima’s mother Alka Paul (70) demanded disciplinary action against the constable. “I have not seen in my 70 years of life that police bite protesters. We spent the night thinking about her. We are civilised people. My daughter was there for her legitimate right. She was arrested but why no action has been taken against that woman cop,” asked Arunima’s mother.
Arunima and other arrested protesters were first taken to Hare Street police station on Wednesday and were made to sit for several hours. Later, they were arrested and taken to Lalbazar police lock-up.
“My wife just took part in the protest. She passed Teacher Eligibility Test in 2014. She has all the right to demand a job, which she deserves. The way we all saw a cop bite her was shocking. Surprisingly, my wife wasn’t given any medical assistance for four to five hours, while the woman cop was the first to be taken to the doctor. What was my wife’s crime? Are we not suppose to raise issues and demand our rights in this democratic country? It is one of the most shameful act,” said Arunima’s husband Sadhan Paul, who works in the railways.
On Thursday, when their bail plea came up at a Bankshall court, the police opposed it, claiming that the woman in uniform was attacked by Arunima Paul.
Soon after their release, the protesters demanded action against the constable.
Police said the protesters were arrested under Sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with a deadly weapon) and 149 ( unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.
The incident triggered a political war of words in the state.
“The one who got bitten has been arrested. Her fault is she couldn’t please the TMC government. The woman cop should be suspended,” senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty demanded.
“This government is not capable of providing jobs to all those who deserve, and, therefore, using police,” BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said.
TMC Rajya Sabha member Santanu Sen, however, backed the police: “The woman constable was the first to be bitten by the protester. On various occasions, police has shown their sensitive side despite provocation. The BJP and CPI(M) at times send their supporters to such protests with vested interest.”