Popular forensic artist getting life threats, wants to quit job

Kolkata, Aug 23: Over the years, Debashish Bandopadhaya's sketches have helped police identify and nab suspects in bomb blast cases across the country. But, the acclaimed forensic portrait artist now wants to quit, fearing for his life and security of his family.

"Criminals whose portraits I have sketched helping identify them, have now turned into my enemies. I want to leave this job," Bandopadhaya told PTI.

Forensic artist wants to quit job

Debashish had drawn sketches of suspects in high profile cases like the 2006 Mumbai serial blast case, Varanasi bomb blast, Jaipur bomb blast, Guwahati bomb blast and several others and had already once been the target of an attack by goons for his job.

His recent near-accurate sketch of a molester based on description provided by the victim, who was forced to jump off a running train to save her honour in Howrah, helped police nab the accused and solve the case.

Bandhopadhaya, who started his career as a boatman ferrying passengers from Belur to Dakhineshwar across the Hooghly river, had a knack for drawing portraits since childhood, courtesy his father Dijendralal Bandopadhaya who was also an artist and a policeman.

"I didn't have any formal training in painting and whatever I learnt, was just by observing my father," he said.

"Initially I used to get calls from affluent families for drawing their ancestors' portraits by listening to their description," Bandopadhaya, a resident of Howrah, said.

His career as a portrait parle artist took off after a call from then Howrah police chief Surojit Kar Purokayastha, now Kolkata police commissioner, in 1997 to draw the sketch of a suspect based on victims' version.

"After that I started working as an artist for state CID and police. My sketches have helped in the arrest of many criminals," he recounted.

According to Bandopadhaya, he had drawn sketches of the prime accused in 2002 American Centre attack and since then, regularly got work from security agencies across India, including the Northeast and Kashmir.

Bandopadhaya currently works as an instructor and expert in Human Anthropology and Criminal Psychology at various training institutes of security agencies like BSF, police departments of Northeast and STF and also trains several police personal in drawing proper sketches of culprits.

He, however, has a grouse against his own state which, he says, has not assessed and rewarded his ability properly.

"West Bengal government has neither paid me properly nor has rewarded my skills," he regrets.

"After so many years, I have a feeling that the current police administration, especially in the states, have a tendency to release portraits soon after a crime is committed without taking care of its accuracy. It only helps in passing the buck rather than arresting the accused," he said


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