A young woman travelling to office by taxi was stalked and harassed by the driver of a goods vehicle all along the Bypass until her helpful cabbie cornered him at Park Circus.
The incident on Thursday morning proved that not every Calcutta cabbie is a rogue, but the cops didn’t do their reputation any good by making the 26-year-old woman visit two police stations to lodge a complaint.
The accused was arrested after Jitender Yadav, the 40-something taxi driver, endorsed the complaint as a witness.
“I mustered the courage to lodge a police complaint, thanks to my cabbie. The way he supported me, I was inspired to get my tormentor arrested and booked,” said the woman, the manager of one of the city’s oldest hair salons.
She had boarded Jitender’s taxi near her home in Ajoynagar, off the Bypass, and first noticed the accused staring at her from his vehicle while they were waiting at the Science City crossing for the traffic signal to turn green.
“I had my earphones on and didn’t know that I was being stared at until I noticed a goods vehicle standing to the left of the taxi and the man in the driver’s seat making lewd gestures with his eyes fixed on me. I immediately turned my face away,” the woman recounted.
While the 26-year-old chose to ignore the harassment, cabbie Jitender didn’t. “I was surprised to see my taxi driver protesting when I myself didn’t make any noise. ‘Yeh kya kar rahe ho (What are you doing)?’ he asked the driver of the goods vehicle. ‘Tum apna kaam karo, main apna kaam kar raha hoon (You do your work, I am doing mine)’, the man shot back,” she said.
When the taxi turned left from Science City, the goods vehicle followed, never letting the complainant go out of sight. Jitender tried to throw him off track by slowing down but he wouldn’t fall for it. “The goods vehicle slowed down every time my taxi did. This continued till I spotted a policeman after crossing the Park Circus flyover. I immediately asked my cabbie to pull over. He did just that, parking the taxi in such a way that the goods vehicle couldn’t speed away,” the woman said.
The cop on duty detained the accused, identified as 28-year-old Rajkumar Poddar from Howrah, after the woman narrated the incident and the cabbie corroborated her version. They were asked to proceed to Topsia police station, barely 100 metres away, to lodge a formal complaint.
The woman’s torment should have ended at that but the old bogey of police jurisdiction came in the way.
“I told the officers everything there was to say — how the driver had been stalking me and making lewd gestures all along the Bypass. I was told that since the offence had occurred near Science City, I needed to lodge my complaint with Pragati Maidan police station. I failed to convince them that the harassment had started at Pragati Maidan and continued till Topsia,” she said.
The cops offered her a ride till Pragati Maidan police station but the woman chose to take Jitender’s taxi instead, accompanied by an officer from Tospia police station. Accused Rajkumar was taken there in a prison van. A case of stalking has been registered against him.
Earlier this month, Metro had highlighted how an elderly couple was made to go from one police station to another to lodge a complaint about a snatching incident at Elliot Park near Rabindra Sadan.
For the young woman harassed on Thursday, cabbie Jitender’s support saved the day.
“I have had such bitter experiences involving taxi drivers, most of them downright rude and dishonest. This man (Jitender) is an exception. But the police’s refusal to accept my complaint at the first police station we visited was unnecessary and tantamount to harassment,” she said.
Have you met a cabbie like Jitender Yadav? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org