A woman homeguard has lodged a complaint with the police commissioner, accusing Maidan police station officer-in-charge Rahul Sarkar of sexually harassing her repeatedly over the past year.
The homeguard, posted at the same police station, wrote the complaint two days ago, seeking police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha’s immediate intervention.
The police chief directed the Calcutta police committee that deals with complaints of sexual harassment to probe the homeguard’s allegation.
Besides, a departmental inquiry will be conducted by assistant commissioner Kamal Patra.
“Both inquiries will be conducted simultaneously. Action will be taken based on the findings,” said Rajeev Mishra, joint commissioner of police, headquarters.
The homeguard in her mid-20s, who joined the police a year ago, wrote in her complaint that Sarkar had harassed her sexually on several occasions.
“Most of the time he used to summon me to his chamber and give me work I was not supposed to do. He tried to become intimate. When I protested, he told me I would be promoted to the rank of constable if I reciprocated his overtures,” she said in the complaint.
When asked why she had not lodged the complaint earlier, the homeguard said: “I thought the problem would end over time. But it did not. Working in the force became unbearable (because of the OC’s behaviour), prompting me to lodge the complaint.”
Senior officers at Lalbazar said they had swung into action immediately after receiving the complaint.
“The allegation was serious. Had we delayed in starting the probe, the morale of women personnel in the force would have suffered,” said a senior officer.
The homeguard had sent the complaint to the police commissioner on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the homeguard went to the office of Murli Dhar, the deputy commissioner of police (south division), and recounted her alleged ordeal. From the deputy commissioner’s office, the complainant was taken to Patra’s office, where she recorded her statement for over two hours.
All women who draw a regular salary, receive an honourarium or work in a voluntary capacity in the government or private sector come under the purview of the Sexual Harassment Act, 2013.
The act specifies that all workplaces must have a committee to deal with complaints of sexual harassment. A woman must head the committee and at least half its members must be women.
The panel must also include an individual or a representative of an NGO familiar with ways of dealing with complaints of sexual harassment.
Calcutta police had in 2010 set up a committee to deal with sexual harassment complaints, following a Supreme Court verdict.
The panel of five is headed by Debashree Chatterjee, an assistant commissioner in charge of the women’s grievance cell.
“The committee will speak to the homeguard shortly and record her statement. We will follow the rulebook in letter and spirit,” said a senior officer at Lalbazar.
“The OC will be summoned,” he added.
Sources said the OC might be transferred. “If the inquiries hold him guilty, his act will be considered a misconduct under the service rules. Actions against him will include suspension,” said the officer.
The accused officer-in-charge could not be contacted for comments despite repeated attempts.