Police records corroborate the public perception that women are not safe in Barasat but the men in uniform have done little to change the situation in the North 24-Parganas district headquarters.
Fourteen cases of eveteasing and molestation have been registered at Barasat police station in the past two and a half years, more than double that in neighbouring Barrackpore, Nimta and Baguiati police stations in the same period.
Barrackpore and Nimta police stations recorded five and four cases while Baguiati registered six complaints.
The crime against women graph has soared in the absence of basic policing.
In 2011, Class X student Rajib Das was killed near Barasat station while trying to save his sister from being molested by a group of drunk youths. As the incident receded in public memory, the 500m stretch, with bungalows of bureaucrats and police officers on one side and a vast ground known as Kachhari Math on the other, went back to being as unsafe as before.
Police records show three women were attacked in the area in the past two and a half years and their family members were not spared when they tried to rescue them.
“I cannot even consider walking down the stretch alone while returning home from coaching classes. My father or elder brother has to accompany me,” said a Class XI student who lives in the area.
A mother who has no option other than to bring her daughter home from private tuition classes as her husband returns home later, said: “Drunk youths do not even spare me. My daughter and I ignore their remarks and walk fast to cross the danger zone as quickly as possible.”
A senior officer, who had played a key role in initiating measures to make Barasat safer for women, found that the local police did not do the basics, such as
lsetting up a kiosk at a strategic location
lgetting police constables to patrol the area on bicycles
lparking a police vehicle in a well-lit, prominent place so that everyone could see it
ldeploying constables in the area for at least six hours in the evening, when women return home from work
lconducting regular raids on nearby hooch dens.
North 24-Parganas police chief Sugata Sen claimed a police van patrolled the area daily after sunset.
On Monday, Metro found the van parked in a dark corner of the stretch. When asked why the van was parked in the dark, Sen said he was not aware of it.
Another senior police officer said: “Barasat police have forgotten the basic purpose of patrolling an area. The attempt should be to prevent crime before it takes place. Rogues should be able to see men in uniform. In this case, it appears that the police are hiding in the dark waiting for a crime to take place so that they can arrest the perpetrator.”
A cop who was officer-in-charge of Maidan police station for three years explained how patrolling curbs crime.
“Snatching, eve-teasing and dumping of bodies were common on deserted parts of the Maidan a few years ago. We set up a kiosk in the area and engaged men to patrol the area on bicycles. The result is such crimes haven’t happened in the recent past,” said the officer.
What can the police do to make Barasat safe for women? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org