The gate of Lake Gardens Co-operative Housing Society is at least 12ft high, with grilles at the top ending in spikes. But that could not stop a Frenchwoman from scaling it in a desperate attempt to save herself from four men hounding her on the streets late on Saturday.
Metro retraced the terror-stricken steps of the Alliance Francaise du Bengale employee on Tuesday evening, landed up at the housing complex in which she took shelter, and heard out two of the residents who had helped her.
Prithwish Gupta, a 27-year-old chef
It was around 3am. I was watching a film when our cocker spaniel Rocco started barking wildly. I peeped out of the window to spot a foreign lady shouting for help and crying.
She was already inside our complex and the guard was standing flummoxed in front of her. She said she was being chased by some men who were out there on the streets.
The guard — who said she had slumped to the garage floor before calling for help — was surprised how she had scaled the gate, but given her desperation I realised she could have scaled a mountain.
Soon, a man came running our way, crying out her name. She also started calling him and they started consoling each other from either side of the gate. I asked the guard to open the lock and let him in. Both of them were in shock and were unable to speak for a long time.
I made them sit on the steps in front of our door and handed them glasses of water. People at home had woken up by then. So had some neighbours.
The man asked me to call the police. I did not have the Lake police station number. After 40 minutes or so, once they had calmed down a bit, they asked for a cab. Though their destination was hardly seven minutes away, they were too scared to walk the streets.
I went to get a cab on my bike and found one near South City. We went to drop them off. Even when he got off the cab the man was limping. His shirt was torn and he had bruises on his hand.
I have lived in Lake Gardens all my life. It has been the safest place in Calcutta. What has happened is unthinkable.
Sanjay Prasad, a 48-year-old professional
I woke up to a woman banging on a gate and crying for help. By the time I came down, Raja (Prithwish) was getting his bike out. He said he was going to get a cab for the two foreigners.
When the cab came they were so scared they requested us to come with them. Raja, my wife and I went along in the taxi to drop them off at her residence.
It is nightmarish to think something like this happened on our doorstep.
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