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Canary Hill: from hotspot to crime den
Date rape bares lax security

Hazaribagh, May 6: The rape of a college student on Canary Hill last evening has once again exposed the ugly face of the picturesque landmark near town.

The 20-year-old victim fell off the 375-feet-high hill while trying to flee her boyfriend who raped her and his aides who attempted to outrage her modesty. She was hospitalised with grievous injuries after being found trapped between rocks and trees 80ft above ground.

Local residents claim the incident is not a stray one.

While incidents of eve-teasing and molestation are rampant on the hill, in 2004, three men with swords had attacked a schoolboy and severed one of his hands. The place, which once drew tourists from different parts of Jharkhand and other states, has turned into a den of junkies and criminals, courtesy lax security and administrative apathy. A police officer conceded local youths preferred the hill, which is far from the hustle-bustle of town life and yet close to it, to take drugs. “These rogues often target women who come here on a date or with their families,” he said.

The officer added that there had been several attempts to develop the place as a popular tourist destination in the past, but in vain.

In 1999, the forest department had pumped in funds to start boating in a pond on the foothill and set up a cafeteria. However, poor law and order situation kept tourists away. Eventually, the pond vanished behind bushes and the canteen downed shutter in 2003.

“There was a time when visitors found it tough to book rooms at guesthouses here. Tourists would cherish the view of the town amid lush green canopy from the hilltop. Several Bengali and Hindi movies were shot at Canary Hill, too,” said a forest official. But now, he added, few come to the place.

ASI (police control room) Md Qamar Alam, who mans the Canary Hill, insisted patrolling was routine and efficient even at present. “We interrogate people with suspicious behaviour. Yesterday, we rescued the girl in time (before she fell to her death). We have also arrested the culprits,” he said, downplaying security concerns.