The young schoolteacher who was stalked and harassed on a bus by a youth on her way to school on Thursday said she would not let that change her route or her routine.
“I will take the same route. There are men like this on every route. If something like this happens, I will protest again,” said the 24-year-old Dum Dum resident, who teaches German at a school in Santragachhi in Howrah.
The lady stayed away from school on Friday as she had to accompany her father to a doctor — the leave, planned a week in advance, had nothing to do with Thursday’s incident.
“I am not afraid. I would have silently suffered the insult on the bus had I been afraid. Even when my father was at the doctor’s place, I was out buying medicines all by myself,” the teacher said.
“As a teacher I have some responsibilities towards my students. If anyone is afraid, she/he should give up the job and stay at home. This is not how it should be.”
She feels women have to take care of themselves instead of being “punished for something that someone else has tried to do to you”.
The teacher’s daily routine is to catch a bus at 5.30am from Dum Dum to Rabindra Sadan, from where she takes a bus to Santragachhi.
On Thursday, the teacher boarded an Amta-bound CTC bus at Rabindra Sadan around 7am. According to her complaint, the tormentor, 28-year-old Rajan Rai, was staring at her at the Rabindra Sadan bus stand and followed her into the vehicle. Though the bus was near-empty, Rai sat beside the teacher, the complaint says.
When Rai, who was apparently returning home to Howrah after a night shift at a Bhowanipore call centre, allegedly started performing a lewd act, the teacher screamed and ran to the front of the bus, shouting at the driver to stop. She also dialled 100 — the police helpline — but could not get through.
The driver stopped the bus in Santragachhi on seeing a policeman, and the conductor and a male co-passenger dragged Rai out and handed him over to the cop. The teacher later lodged a police complaint.
“Women are afraid because they are not physically strong and they think they won’t be able to combat such men. But physical strength is not what you need in such situations. You have to be mentally strong,” the teacher said. “In such a situation, create as much chaos as possible, instead of taking on the stalker or the assaulter physically.”
She said she had reacted whenever she was subjected to lewd comments or obscene gestures but for the first time on Thursday she played a role in handing over the harasser to the police.
Rai has been charged with molestation and resorting to obscenity in public. He has been remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.
1091 Calcutta police’s toll-free number for distressed and harassed women