Calcutta, Oct. 24: A Polish woman working in Calcutta for the past six months has accused a group of youths of molesting her on the evening of Navami, raising questions about the city's famed record as an oasis of safety for women.
The 28-year-old woman, associated with an NGO in the city, said she was harassed on Friday evening by four drunken youths at Dover Terrace in south Calcutta while she and a friend were on their way to her apartment.
Based on her complaint, Gariahat police have lodged a case of molestation and begun a hunt for the four youths.
'What safety are you talking about' Leave me out, but I know about my friends here who face this problem quite often but shy away from lodging a police complaint fearing harassment. Now that this incident has reached the media, even I am feeling insecure,' the woman told The Telegraph.
Narrating the incident, the woman, who hails from Katowice in southern Poland, said she and her friend got down from an auto-rickshaw at the Hazra Road-Dover Terrace crossing. They were walking down the stretch to her residence, a two-room rented apartment on the ground floor of a two-storeyed building inside a small lane, when the youths encircled them, she said.
One of them, according to the police, molested her. The youths apparently took advantage of the dark and also of the fact that there was no Navami evening crowd on the stretch as the only puja was some distance away.
The familiar knots of mechanics and drivers were also not there then as the automobile workshops in the area were closed for the Pujas.
However, roused by the cries for help and jostling, several residents rushed out. One of them managed to push back the attacker and take the woman away.
Someone called up the city police headquarters at Lalbazar, which asked Gariahat police to inquire. A squad reached the spot and the woman lodged a handwritten complaint.
Curiously, while the incident took place around 7 pm and the complaint was lodged half-an-hour later, the police recorded the case only around 2 am.
The assault, which the police described as 'a stray incident', came two days after a restaurateur in south Calcutta was beaten to death ' an incident that prompted the government to claim that a single incident did not make Calcutta a less secure place.
The suspects in the murder of Biswaroop Roychoudhury, owner of a restaurant in the Lake View Road-Lake Terrace area, are still at large.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had wondered aloud at a meeting in North 24-Parganas whether it would be in order to pass judgement on Calcutta on the basis of the Lake Terrace incident.