Sunita (name changed on request) found the same set of boys “waiting” for her every evening at the Dum Dum railway station subway. After she complained to the Dum Dum Government Railway Police, things just got nastier. With no way out, her parents decided to move out of the neighbourhood.
This sordid tale could have been scripted in various pockets of south, central and north Calcutta. For, the zone around Ballygunge railway station — where chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s daughter Suchetana reportedly faced an “unpleasant experience” on Sunday — is definitely not the solitary spot in Calcutta where women feel “unsafe” after dark.
The chief minister did not deny The Telegraph report on how his daughter was harassed by eve-teasers near Ballygunge. “I don’t want to discuss my family in public,” he said at Writers’ Buildings, while refusing to answer queries whether Calcutta was a “safe city” for women.
Even as the four youths arrested on Monday, apparently in connection with the Ballygunge episode, were remanded in police custody till December 28 and interrogated through the day to help the cops track down two other accused, women across the city were spending another harrowing day dealing with road Romeos. Figures available with Calcutta Police indicate that the most-frequented areas are the worst for a woman walking alone. Park Street police station, for instance, records one of the highest eve-teasing complaints in the city. About 30 FIRs are lodged against eve-teasers every year in this thana.
The low complaint count is attributed to the fact that most such complainants are “advised to record their cases under other heads, which the police can prove more easily”, explain senior officers, adding that eve-teasers should be booked under 354 IPC. But this would result in the offenders obtaining bail easily and so, “to teach them a lesson”, it is better to register the cases under other offences.
Among the eve-teasing peril points marked out by the police are “cultural” stops like the pavement in front of the Ramakrishna Institute of Culture (Gol Park) and the Nandan complex. Gol Park has always been a “favourite haunt” of eve-teasers, admit officials. The setting up of Gariahat police station a few yards away from the trouble-spot in 1999 has hardly improved matters. Nor has Nandan benefited with the setting up of Maidan police station.
The Esplanade-Central Avenue-Dalhousie zone has also turned into a hunting ground for eve-teasers, who target the women employees of various government and private establishments.