An oasis of peace' Ask a young working woman who was molested at a crowded railway station about it.
Not long after chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had referred to his Bengal as the calm amidst growing criminalisation, an employee (name withheld on request) of a private finance company was teased and tormented for over half-an-hour by a gang of rowdies on the Hridaypur station platform on Monday evening.
The woman’s marriage is scheduled for next week.
It was around 8.10 pm when the 25-year-old reached the station, no more than 15 km from Sealdah, with a male colleague, Tapan. She was headed home to Dunlop from her office’s branch near Barasat.
Tapan, who lives in Belghoria, had joined the company three days ago. “We told Tapan to accompany her, as it was quite late. Besides, both were headed back on the same route,” said Tapas Ghosh, one of the proprietors of the firm.
The two were standing in front of a tea-stall on platform no. 1 when a gang of 10 youths, most of them drunk, started passing lewd comments at the woman.
Witnesses said that as soon as Tapan protested, one of the goons, later identified as Polu, assaulted him. Just then, a train pulled into the station and the youths pushed Tapan into one of the compartments.
With her colleague gone and none of the bystanders ready to lift a finger to protect her, the woman was at the mercy of the goons.
Gopal Saha, who runs a country liquor shop in the area, Polu and the others surrounded the woman and slapped her repeatedly. The woman’s cries for help brought no one to her rescue.
“They dragged me to another tea-stall, near the ticket-booking counter. I was forced to sit on a concrete slab and they surrounded me. They not only made obscene gestures and passed vulgar remarks, they also slapped my face no less than 25 times. Unable to bear the pain and the humiliation, I began to cry, but they kept on torturing me,” the victim later said.
She did manage to slip out of their grasp and board a Sealdah-bound train, but some of her assailants gave chase, dragged her by the hair out of the ladies’ compartment and started thrashing her again.
Throughout the torture, the drunken goons were allegedly saying that this would teach her a lesson and stop her from moving around with her “boyfriend” in public.
In a bid to convince the goons that Tapan was just a colleague, the woman called up Ghosh from her cellphone. When they realised that she had been telling the truth about Tapan, the goons left the platform. The woman then boarded the next train with help from some local youths, who stepped forward only after the attackers had disappeared.
Policemen from Barasat thana, led by an officer Shanti Ranjan Panja, reached the spot, contacted Tapan and then carried out a series of raids. But no arrests had been made till late on Tuesday.
“I will be able to identify all of them,” the woman has told her employer.