A young Bhopal-based woman allegedly held hostage in a south Calcutta house for a fortnight jumped off a running motorcycle to reach a police station and lodge a complaint against the father of a troubled teenaged girl she had helped counsel.
Swarup Chowdhury, a resident of Shahidnagar in Garfa, was arrested late on Tuesday based on the 24-year-old woman’s complaint that he had allegedly held her captive for ransom, verbally abused and molested her.
The woman, who works for an event management company in Bhopal, told the cops that she had come to the city to help her alleged tormentor’s teenage daughter tide over a “personal crisis”.
“She quickly realised it was a trap but didn’t get a chance to flee until 15 days later,” a police officer said, quoting from the FIR.
Her escape was as dramatic as the circumstances that had brought her to Calcutta in the second half of December.
On Tuesday evening, a group of women spotted the complainant jumping off Chowdhury’s motorcycle and running towards them screaming “thane jana hai…thane jana hai (I want to go to the police station)”.
She had apparently feigned sickness and convinced Chowdhury to take her to a doctor. The accused was slowing down in front of a pharmacy when the woman got off the two-wheeler and bolted. Some of the bystanders escorted her to Garfa police station, where she narrated her plight.
“According to her version of the story, the woman had met Chowdhury’s daughter last August while working and staying as a paying guest in Delhi for some time. The girl had just eloped with someone and moved into the same house as the victim. The woman soon became the teenager’s confidante,” an officer said.
Calcutta police later “rescued” the teenager from Delhi on the basis of her father’s complaint but she apparently remained in touch with her newfound, older friend. “The girl landed up at the complainant’s house in Bhopal last month, saying she didn’t want to stay with her father anymore because of his abusive nature. Chowdhury followed his daughter to Bhopal and requested her friend to counsel his daughter and help bring her back home. She agreed,” the officer said.
On reaching home, Chowdhury allegedly snatched the young woman’s wallet and cell phone. He then demanded that she contact her parents in Bihar and ask for an unspecified amount of money.
“The complainant says she refused to call home because she didn’t want to drag her parents into all this. We have since been able to establish contact with the victim’s father, who is a government employee in Bihar,” the police officer said.
Chowdhury allegedly threatened her with assault and repeatedly made indecent gestures, the woman said in her complaint.
It isn’t clear whether Chowdhury, who has been remanded in police custody, had an alleged extortion plan when he asked the complainant to accompany him and his daughter to Calcutta from Bhopal.
Another unanswered question is whether the minor girl was part of any such plan. When the police knocked on Chowdhury’s door on Tuesday night, his daughter wasn’t home. He and wife Preeti claimed their only child had fled home again.
The police have found out that Chowdhury is mostly unemployed and makes a living through the occasional supply contract. Preeti was unavailable for comment.
Metro tried to speak to the complainant on Wednesday to confirm whatever she had told the police but she refused to talk to anyone other than the cops.
She doesn’t know anyone in the city and will be in the police’s care until her family members arrive in the city, sources said.