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Bail curtain on Maidan molest
- Victims opt to keep mum, says survey

College student Pratik Roy, arrested on Wednesday afternoon for molesting an Israeli tourist in the Maidan area, was released on bail on Thursday.

Officers on the beat admitted this could well be curtains for the case.

'He has been granted bail, and the complainant, Yael Cohen, left the city with her boyfriend Yair Danliger early on Thursday. We had requested her to stay another day so that we could submit the chargesheet,' the officers said.

Around 1.30 pm on Wednesday, 25-year-old Cohen and her companion Danliger were walking along Casuarina Avenue, towards Victoria Memorial. As the youth bent down to tie his shoelaces near JK Island, opposite the Fort William entrance, Pratik made his move.

Police said the first-year B.Com student 'caressed Cohen from behind', and as she raised an alarm, took to his heels. As Danliger gave chase, some police personnel joined in and pinned Pratik down.

He was taken to Maidan police station and, following an official complaint by the victim, booked under Section 354 (outrage of modesty).

Police said though Cohen had identified Pratik at Maidan thana, it would not stand scrutiny in a court of law unless the accused was identified in the presence of a court-appointed magistrate.

'We will pursue the case through the Israeli consulate and seek Cohen's cooperation,' said Anuj Sharma, deputy commissioner of police (south division).

'We aren't sure if she will turn up to identify Pratik. But if she does, it will make the task of proving him guilty that much easier.'

The episode of the Maidan molester is a telling case in point of the system's inadequacy in dealing with offenders stalking the streets. Pratik was all but caught red-handed, and yet his punishment hardly measured up to his crime.

And that is the rule, not the exception, when dealing with eve-teasers and molesters.

In a recent opinion poll conducted by Metro, 89 per cent of women respondents admitted to having faced some form of sexual harassment on the streets of Calcutta.

Also in that survey, victims had said most cases went unreported, fearing police harassment and public humiliation.

Take what happened to Tania Chatterjee (name changed on request), daughter of a former government official: 'One evening last summer, I was walking down the road in front of Prinsep Ghat with a friend, when a Maruti Zen closed in on us and two youths got out. One of them caught hold of my hand, while the other attacked my friend. We raised an alarm and both the youths were caught. But when we were taken to Hastings police station, we realised the consequences of filing an official complaint and decided otherwise.'

The assailants walked free.

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