Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee stated in the Assembly on Thursday what has been evident to citizens for a long time ' that crime against women is on the rise in Calcutta and Salt Lake.
'I admit that crimes against women are rising in the city and Salt Lake,' the chief minister said. 'This can't go on,' he asserted.
But he omitted to say what senior officers openly admit in Lalbazar ' that the cases that make it to the headlines are only the tip of the iceberg.
'Most cases of crime against women in the city do not get reported to police,' said an officer of the detective department of the city force. 'Fear of social stigma forces women to keep quiet about the crimes that have been committed on them,' he explained.
Officials say they often try to persuade women against whom crimes have been committed to come forward and lodge a complaint.
'But our experience has shown that women do not want to get their names mentioned in police record books ' even though they have been wronged against ' and are reluctant to disclose their identities,' an officer said.
He recalled that policemen on duty on Park Street noticed a couple of young men trying to molest two girls outside a discotheque last month. They immediately caught hold of the men and asked the girls to lodge a complaint.
But the girls flatly refused, saying they did not want to be dragged into any controversy. Police gave the men a thrashing, but had to let them go.
The officer cited another instance. In June, a couple in a Maruti Zen stopped the car near a police jeep parked at the Narkeldanga Main Road-EM Bypass crossing.
The duo said it was being followed by two goons on a motorcycle, who were making obscene gestures at the woman and trying to drag her out. Within minutes, the motorcycle appeared and the cops gave the eve-teasers a hot chase and grabbed them. But the couple refused to file a complaint. The goons were set free.
One of the reasons for not filing a complaint, apart from the fear of social stigma, is that molesters get bail almost immediately after their arrest, because the section under which they are charged is bailable.
'So, people think that the culprits in any case will get away with their crimes,' an officer pointed out.
In the Assembly, the chief minister said the reasons for the rise in crime against women were deep-rooted.
'Socio-economic factors, like early marriage, poverty and dowry are to be blamed,' Bhattacharjee said.
'I have asked three universities to conduct a survey on the socio-economic factors responsible for crimes against women,' he disclosed.
The chief minister announced that along with the social welfare department, he would organise a workshop on August 31. Representatives of the women's commission, non-government organisations and women's welfare groups will attend the workshop.
We can be the best in the country. We should be No. 1… I have asked the police commissioner to draw up a detailed plan on how to execute the project (overhaul the traffic system). We want to gift this new system to Calcuttans.
Things are changing. Foreign investors are arriving, trade is looking up and the city is fast emerging as a vital hub. We need a facelift. The thrust will be on traffic, since we need to ensure free and fast movement of vehicles.
—Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Lalbazar on Wednesday.
Two illegal autorickshaw stands set up by Citu a couple of weeks ago along VIP Road have reduced traffic to a trickle (picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya). Frequent snarls are being reported on sections of the only artery to the airport, used by about 300 vehicles an hour. Police have been ineffectual in dealing with the problem, mainly due to the Citu link.