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Page last updated at 11:21 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Row at India kidnap officer on TV

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

Abducted police officer Atindranath Dutta being escorted by masked Maoist rebels before his release on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009
Mr Dutta has defended his television appearances

An Indian police officer who was recently released from captivity by Maoist rebels in West Bengal state has violated codes of conduct, police say.

Since his release, Atindranath Dutta has appeared on several television shows and police say he is divulging sensitive information.

The officer was in charge of the police station when Maoist rebels stormed Sankrail town and looted the bank.

He was kidnapped and two other policemen were killed in the attack.

But Mr Dutta was freed as part of a negotiated exchange two days later.

The Maoists said they would release him if 14 tribal women from the troubled Lalgarh district were also released on bail.

'Unbecoming'

Mr Dutta refuses to discuss his questioning by police detectives, but has defended his television appearances.

"The media played a major role in my release. So if they want me to tell them what happened in captivity, how can I not oblige them?" he told the BBC.

But his actions have drawn criticism from senior police officers.

"He is clearly violating service conduct rules by speaking on television day and night," Inspector General of Police in West Bengal, Kuldeep Singh said.

"He has divulged all details of the case before the government could start an inquiry. This is most unbecoming of a policeman."

Mr Singh said Mr Dutta would be punished if charges of "dereliction of duty" and "violation of service conduct rules" were proved against him.

Map

"He has asked for some time to join duty, but he is hale and hearty. He is giving TV interviews all day, changing clothes six times a day, so why can't he join duty?" asked the state's chief secretary, Asok Mohan Chakrabarti.

Former army colonel Soumitra Ray has called for a "stiff punishment" for Mr Dutta.

"The way he shook hands with the Maoists and appealed to the government to start talks with the rebels, the way he thanked the Maoists publicly for his release, the way he allowed himself to be carried away by the Maoists without putting any resistance - all this will send very wrong signals unless he is punished," Mr Ray told the BBC.

A preliminary inquiry into the Maoist attack on the Sankrail police station has revealed that the police officer was not in uniform and did not have his service revolver when the attack started, police say .

Mr Dutta's colleagues are also reported to be upset because he did not visit the relatives of two of his colleagues who were killed in the Maoist attack.



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