Lucknow, Sept. 23: An American woman has said she jumped off a running auto in Lucknow after enduring 20 minutes of molestation by the driver and two accomplices, then faced the usual police reluctance to register a complaint.
The 23-year-old student’s ordeal played out on Saturday evening but she managed to lodge a complaint only a day later when she went to the city’s all-woman police station in Hazratganj.
All three accused were arrested on Sunday evening and she identified them to the police on Monday, when the news was officially announced.
The incident comes in the backdrop of a fellow American student’s description of sexual harassment during an India trip, which has gone viral on the Internet scoring tens of thousands of viewings and hundreds of comments.
The Lucknow complainant is a student with an American university and arrived in the city in the second week of August to carry out a research assignment on “the impact of multilingualism on the Sufi culture of the Avadh region”, police sources said.
She has been staying as a paying guest in the Indira Nagar locality and working in collaboration with a social research institute in Gokhale Marg, while learning Urdu at an institute.
“She is deeply upset at what happened but is determined to stay on till end-October as scheduled,” an officer said. “She did not suffer injuries after leaping off the auto.”
Women’s activists have met her to promise support and the police have assured full protection, sources said.
Her FIR says she boarded a six-seat auto in old Lucknow around 6.30pm but most of the other passengers got off soon, leaving her alone with the driver and his two friends.
“My trauma began after they started passing lewd remarks. Then they moved closer to me and touched me,” her police complaint says. Her version of events:
The men took turns molesting her, the driver switching seats with one of the accomplices to get close to her. They put the music on full volume to prevent her cries being heard. This continued for 20 minutes.
She took her chance and jumped off when the driver slowed down near Qaiserbagh to talk to an acquaintance on the street. She tried to marshal pedestrians to stop the auto but none would respond. However, she noted down the number of the auto.
The complainant then approached a nearby police outpost but the cops fobbed her off without registering an FIR. Some local people advised her to approach the women’s police station.
The accused have been identified as Veeru (the driver), Rajan and Ayush. Shivakumari Shukla, inspector at the women’s police station, said the accused had been charged with assault and the use of criminal force with the intent to outrage a woman’s modesty.
On March 24, a British woman had jumped off a hotel balcony in Agra fearing sexual assault by the hotel manager and his men.
Recently, a Chicago University student returned to her country traumatised after three months in India. She has recounted her experience of being molested, stalked, groped and photographed by strangers during her stay in various Indian cities in an interview that has been widely circulated across social networks.