When u set out on a journey to Ithaca,
Pray the road is long, full of adventure, full of knowledge.
With these words from Constantine Cavafy's poem Ithaca, she set out on what she hoped would be the beginning of some wonderful friendships on the Net. Instead, she is now living out a nightmare on the Net.
The 20-year-old daughter of an officer with a central law-enforcing agency recently made what she thought was a harmless posting on Orkut ' a popular online community ' seeking 'straight-minded' friends with 'a good sense of humour'.
She was in for a pleasant surprise ' within a week, she was reunited on the Net with friends she had long lost touch with. Then came the nasty shock ' a posting on the same site with her photograph, but with the Ithaca lines replaced by a single-line of self-introduction: 'I am a sex loving person'. If this was not enough, the photo album was full of doctored nude pictures and the how-to-contact slot had her cellphone number.
The real horror of virtual harassment had begun for the second-year student of a south Calcutta college. Soon, the inbox of her cellphone was flooded with obscene SMSs. 'I also received a number of phone calls with lewd remarks and proposals. I just had to switch off,' said the traumatised girl. 'I am shocked. I did not even create the profile in my real name. But I found my name in the fake profile. Whoever is the culprit must be knowing me,' she added.
The latest in a rapidly-growing list of Net tease cases got the cops cracking. 'The fake posting is full of lewd remarks,' said an officer of the detective department. 'For example, she had mentioned that she read books like Gone With The Wind and watched films like A Walk In The Clouds, while the fake profile mentions Kamasutra as what she reads and pornographic films as what she watches.'
'The culprit appears to be among the victim's friends,' observed Gyanwant Singh, deputy commissioner of police (detective department).
In another case of nasty Net harassment, a girl from Maniktala was blackmailed by her suitor, Anirban Mitra.
'The man took a photograph of her and then super-imposed her face on a nude body. He blackmailed the girl into paying him Rs 35,000 and demanded a car, Rs 3 lakh and a laptop from her father. Anirban was arrested on receipt of a complaint,' said Singh.
The cyber crime wing of the detective department at Lalbazar is being kept on its toes with an alarming spurt in obscene phone calls and text messages. Most can be traced back to cell numbers mischievously posted on sex sites.
This form of harassment is followed by victims being flooded with obscene mail. 'Handling that is far easier, by tracking down the culprits from their mail IDs,' said an officer with the crime wing, busy responding to complaints and urging use of safeguards.