A young woman on her way to an official assignment was taunted and harassed by a group of men from a Tata Sumo near Science City on the Bypass on Monday afternoon. The victim, who noted down the vehicle’s number and lodged a police complaint, narrates to Metro why she felt safer running across the speed corridor to spare herself further humiliation rather than hope someone would stand up for her.
My job requires me to travel within the city and today my destination was a star address on the Bypass, where I had an appointment at 1pm. I didn’t find a taxi, so I boarded a CTC bus and got off in front of the construction site less than a hundred metres from the hotel on the Ultadanga-bound flank.
I was slowly walking towards the Milan Mela connector with a wary eye on the traffic coming in my direction when I spotted a silver-coloured Tata Sumo that seemed to be too close to the edge of the road, though still some distance away. I was just about to hop across to the service lane leading to the hotel gates when I noticed the vehicle accelerating.
For a moment, I thought the Sumo would take a turn towards the hotel, but it didn’t. The driver steered the vehicle towards me instead and I could make out that the passengers were all formally dressed. As I took my headphones off to hear what they were saying, the vehicle came to a halt. “Hebby toh, dekhechhish? Bhalo maal (Nice one, have you noticed?),” said one of the men to hoots from the rest.
I was shocked that this could be happening to me in daylight, around 1pm on a busy road like the Bypass. Several cars and bikes passed by, some slowed down, but nobody bothered to stop.
The comments were now flowing thick and fast. “Shokale kothay jachho (Where are you headed so early)?” one of my tormentors said. “Ekhane ashbe (Would you hop in)?” another taunted.
I feared they would step out of the Sumo any moment. So I ran across the road, unmindful of the speeding traffic. On reaching the other side, I keyed down the car number (WB74Y 0519) on my phone. That did the trick. My tormentors saw me doing so and the Sumo sped away towards Ultadanga.
Police have slapped charges of stalking, making sexually coloured remarks and common intention on the unidentified accused. All the sections are bailable and carries a maximum jail term of three years.