The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Molester on prowl in Presidency

Calcutta, July 20: A second-year student of Presidency College was chased by a molester on campus today.

Principal Amitava Chatterjee said the middle-aged man ' described as an outsider often seen hanging around with associates ' sneaked into the campus and accosted the girl around 11.30 am, passed lewd comments and made obscene gestures.

Students and a few teachers who witnessed the incident said the girl, a student of sociology, was taken aback when the man appeared from nowhere hurling abuses. She was a short distance away from the Netaji Subhas Building where she was due to attend classes.

When she realised the man was targeting her, the student “ran into the building, but he followed her there”, Chatterjee said.

Once inside, the man ran down the corridor, chasing the girl who was a few feet ahead. When the gap narrowed, he tried to trip her from behind, said a student who was one of a group alerted by her cries for help.

The students chased the intruder, but he escaped through one of the exits, Chatterjee said.

Soon after, a large number of students gathered at the college main gate under the banner of the anti-Left All India Democratic Students’ Organisation, an affiliate of the SUCI, and demanded an inquiry. Shouting slogans, they sought protection for the students.

“It was a case of molestation, but college authorities are trying to hush it up because the incident shows up Presidency in a bad light,” said Bhupal Sau, a functionary of the outfit.

Chatterjee said he had recounted the incident to police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee. He also forwarded the complaint the girl had submitted to college authorities to Sasanka De, the officer-in-charge of Jorasanko police station. De and his officers visited the college ' the alma mater of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee ' and recorded the statements of teachers and students.

The police said they would examine the molestation angle after they receive a specific complaint.

Steps would be taken for protection of students, especially girls, in line with the concerns expressed in a memorandum submitted by the students, said Anuj Sharma, deputy commissioner (headquarters).

Members of the Presidency College Students’ Union also demanded an overhaul of campus security and held several meetings with the principal on the issue.

“Today’s incident has exposed security lapses on the college premises. Outsiders have to be forbidden from entering the college campus,” said Anirban Saha, general secretary of the union. “For this, we have agreed with the principal to accept photo identity cards for all students.” Presidency authorities had been trying for three years to persuade students to accept identity cards.

Police pickets would be posted at vulnerable points and outsiders barred from using the playground.

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