The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lady, please step out & speak up
Jagannath De, the hotel management student who was beaten up and dragged down from a bus in Salt Lake for protesting eve-teasing on Sunday, speaks up for the first time about the ordeal and issues an appeal

Around 5.30 on Sunday evening, I had boarded a CSTC bus from Karunamoyee with one of my batchmates, Subhendu Roy. I stood in the middle while Subhendu took the rear seat. The bus was not too crowded but most seats were filled up.

The bus was about to start when this girl boarded. She looked around 18 to 19 and was wearing blue jeans and a white shirt. She stood near the ladiesí seat.

Six youths also got into the bus. Four went to the rear but two stood very close to the girl. As the bus started moving, one of them ó around 5 feet 9 inches, quite well built with a beard and a small bun on his head ó walked up close to the girl and stood behind her.

Soon, he started nudging her and tried to fall on her with his friend pushing him. The girl was in distress. After waiting for a few minutes, I couldnít resist myself and reacted.

First, I spoke in Bengali. When they ignored me, I switched to broken Hindi. I told them: Arrey bhaiya, yeh kya kar rahein hain aap. Ladki ko chhor dijiye.

The boy ó in blue jeans, black shirt with sleeves rolled up and black shoes ó abused me.

I walked up to him and a quarrel broke out. He pushed me and I fell on the rod in the middle of the bus.

While all this was happening, the girl kept mum. There were two old men sitting nearby, but they didnít utter a word.

Rather, as we fought, they called the bus conductor and told him to get rid of the three of us since we were creating trouble.

By then, the four others with the duo had joined them.

As the bus took a turn near the island ahead of the Videocon cricket academy, it slowed and the bearded youth dragged me down while the others pushed me. We all got off.

The bus moved ahead and I saw Subhendu trying to get down. He joined me minutes later.

The bearded youth started kicking me. I resisted for a while. Later, when Subhendu joined me, we tried hitting back but the pain was too intense and I couldnít bear it. I lost consciousness and slumped to the ground.

The rest is known to all. The girl must have read it in the papers or seen it on television. Still, she hasnít come forward and this is why I would like to appeal to her.

If you want, you can speak to me. I assure you your identity will be protected. Or you can also speak to police. But please come up and speak about what had happened that day. Or else, all my efforts would be in vain.

Trust me, lady, if you donít speak up, the youths wonít be arrested. Worse still, in similar situations, many will remember what happened to Jagannath and keep silent.

You must be feeling it within you. Step out and help me realise that I had done something for you.

Or else, why did I take so much pain when I could have avoided it easily'

(Till late on Tuesday night, the police had not made any breakthrough in tracking down the six youths)

As told to Kinsuk Basu Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

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