The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cigarette scorch for tease protest

A woman was “punished” — by having a burning cigarette stubbed out on her arm — on Tuesday afternoon, for her “audacity” to protest being teased by two youths. That too, on a busy street in Oxytown, on the southern fringes of the city. This sparked trouble in the area, resulting in two buses being smashed by angry protestors.

At around 3.30 pm, two youths targeted a 28-year-old woman waiting on the pavement while her eight-year-old son bought sweets from a nearby shop. Shocked by the lewd comments, the woman screamed out. The youths hit back by first hurling some more abuses at her and then, one of them pushed his burning cigarette against her arm, before hopping on to a bus on the 12C route and exiting the scene.

The woman ran after the bus, gesturing to the driver to stop the vehicle. But it sped away, leaving her sobbing on the crowded street, more in humiliation than in pain.

Late on Tuesday, Chandan Biswas, a conductor of a bus on route 12C, was arrested on the basis of the description provided by the woman, who later identified him as one of her tormentors. “We are interrogating the conductor and from him, we are sure to get the whereabouts of his associate,” said deputy superintendent of police (DSP), town, South 24-Parganas, Subhankar Chatterjee.

“I had gone to pick up my son from a primary school in Oxytown,” the victim told the Sarsuna police outpost, where she filed an FIR. “My son was pestering me for some toffees so I gave him money and told him to go and buy what he wanted from a nearby shop, while I waited on the pavement.”

Suddenly, two youths came up behind her and started passing lewd remarks. She initially decided to ignore them, but the crass comments continued. “One of them was standing so close to me that I panicked and decided to confront him,” she recounted. “There were people all around me and I thought they would not dare harm me on such a crowded pavement,’’ she said.

But moments after she cried out in protest, the woman realised how wrong she had been. Before she knew what was happening, the youth closest to her stubbed his cigarette on her arm before running towards the 12C bus.

A crowd gathered around the woman and some, who were her neighbours in nearby Muchipara, recognised her. The outrage swelled and the mob started pelting two private 12C buses with stones. The main road was blocked and vehicles were not allowed to pass. The police arrived an hour later and persuaded the mob to lift the roadblock.

According to DSP Chatterjee, there was a burn injury on the woman’s arm. “We have sent her for medical examination and we are on the trail of the missing youth,” he added.

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