A 24-year-old schoolteacher was allegedly stalked by a call centre executive from near Rabindra Sadan and followed into a near-empty bus, where he sat next to her and performed a lewd act.
The woman, who teaches German in a Howrah school, protested and was supported by a male co-passenger and the bus driver, leading to her tormentor’s arrest.
The incident occurred around 7 on Thursday morning aboard an Amta-bound Calcutta Tramways Company bus. The woman was headed for her school in Santragachhi while her alleged tormentor, 28-year-old Rajan Rai, was apparently returning home from his night shift at a Bhowanipore call centre.
The police quoted the complainant as saying that the accused, who is also studying for a BCom degree, spotted her waiting for a bus near Rabindra Sadan and kept staring at her from close.
The woman, a resident of Dum Dum, said he followed her into the Amta-bound bus. She took a seat next to an open window at the back of the vehicle and the youth sat next to her despite the bus being almost empty.
“I did not like the way he was moving in his seat and asked him to keep his hands away from me. He looked away but not for long. A few moments later, I saw him engaging in a sexual act. I was shocked. I screamed and ran to the front of the bus, shouting at the driver to stop the bus. I wanted to drag him out and beat him up myself. But the conductor said they would drive the bus to a police station,” the woman recounted.
By that time, the bus was on Vidyasagar Setu. The woman dialled 100 but could not get through, as it often happens on bridges and flyovers in the city.
“By then, my tormentor was trying to get off the bus. But a male co-passenger did not let him and called someone he knew in Lalbazar. The man told me that the bus was out of Calcutta police’s jurisdiction but the officer with whom he just spoke over the phone would inform his counterparts in Howrah about the incident,” the woman told Metro.
When the bus reached Santragachhi railway station, the driver stopped the vehicle on spotting a policeman on the road. The conductor and the victim’s male co-passenger dragged the youth out of the bus and handed him over to the cop.
Another policeman arrived and the duo took him to the police station.
“I have grown up in this city and this is not the first time I have faced harassment. But the only way to survive is to be mentally strong. Someone needs to protest. We should not keep quiet thinking of what he (the molester) might do to me in future,” the woman said.
The accused is a resident of Thakunama village in Howrah and needed to board an Andul Road-bound bus to reach home rather than the one that the victim had taken to reach her school in Santragachhi.
“The Amta-bound bus does not go anywhere near his village. His intention (behind boarding that bus) is pretty clear,” said a senior officer of the Howrah police commissionerate.
Rajan has been charged with molestation and resorting to obscene acts in public. He will be in judicial custody for 14 days.
On Tuesday evening, a young homemaker was harassed inside a private bus near BBD Bag.
On that occasion, some of the victim’s co-passengers supported her and helped turn over the accused, 27-year-old Howrah resident Afsar Alam, to the police.