| Even as Calcuttans danced the last night of 2002 away, out on Park Street, women fell victim to jostles and worse as rogue revellers ran riot. The police managed to pick up 103 eve-teasers, but many more got away. Picture by Rashbehari Das
It’s been Party Street since the swinging Sixties and beyond. From the temptations of Trinca’s to the teen craze of Tantra, the Park Street stretch, between Chowringhee Road and Camac Street, is where all the action has been. And the party has always hit its highest pitch on the night of December 31.
But with every passing year, Park Street is becoming the one place not to go to on New Year’s Eve. Statistics sum up a sordid story — the Park Street police station recorded the arrest of 103 men on the last night of 2002, for “misbehaving with women”.
Even the briefest walk down the street aglitter would tell you why — the revelry is raucous and the wildness vulgar on what used to be the preferred haunt of the most genteel party-hopper. One look at the crowd and you know what’s gone wrong — everything. Lecherous looks, cacophonous catcalls and brash brushes greet women here.
The “vicious teasing” of women has forced the police to track the profile of the raiders of celebration street. Initial findings on Wednesday pointed to “a vast majority of revellers” being from “suburban business families” and “ruffians out to have a good time”.
Prabir Das, officer-in-charge of Park Street police station, said: “Hordes from the city’s adjoining areas thronged the nightclubs on Tuesday.”
With matters spinning out of control, Das and his men had to resort to a lathicharge to restore order on Park Street.
Lalbazar old-timers recounted the decades gone by when the night life on Park Street was dynamic, but disciplined. “We do not recall instances of eve-teasing then,” said a senior officer.
“A large number of ruffians, with lots of money to burn, throng the nightclubs, resulting in frequent brawls and a flood of eve-teasing complaints,” said deputy commissioner of police, detective department, Soumen Mitra.
According to Mitra, a large number of revellers picked up on Tuesday night had poured into Park Street and its adjacent areas from the North and South 24-Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Dunlop, Behala, Thakurpukur and Jadavpur areas.
The Lalbazar control room, too, was flooded with complaints from different areas. “Our telephones never stopped ringing till 2 am. We received more than 200 complaints of eve-teasing," said an officer in the police control room.
Commissioner of police Sujoy Chakroborty held a series of meetings with senior officers on Wednesday to probe the spurt in eve-teasing on New Year’s Eve.