The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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And lawless lies the Lakes

There are ripples of fear in Lake placid.

The eve-teasing incident on Thursday evening has yet again exposed how lawless and dangerous the Dhakuria Lakes can be.

A gang of four youths on motorcycles had intercepted a college-going girl and her boyfriend on the southern periphery of the waterbody on Thursday evening.

They started teasing the girl and passing lewd comments. When the couple protested, the harassers made a grab for the girl and tore her top. They beat up her boyfriend when he resisted them.

Drawn by the shouts, a constable from the reserve force rushed to the spot. He, too, was thrashed by the eve-teasers.

The molesters were finally tamed after another constable arrived at the spot.

Kaneet Bhatia — Vicky to friends — the main accused, was arrested along with accomplice Moloy Debnath. Their other two partners in crime managed to flee. The harassed couple, too, melted into the darkness and did not turn up to lodge a police complaint.

Kaneet, 27, and Moloy, also in his 20s, were produced in Alipore court on Friday and granted bail.

“This is no isolated incident. This got reported because policemen got bashed up. Women being teased in the Lakes by motorcycle-borne youths is a daily occurrence,” alleged Sabyasachi Bose, a morning-walker.

The lungs of south Calcutta — an oasis of idyllic green — draw senior citizens seeking a breath of fresh air and young lovers seeking solitude.

By police estimates, the Lakes plays host to around 500 morning-walkers, around 300 evening-walkers and hundreds of couples.

“This is one place where we can sit quietly, without having to spend money and without being spotted. But there are groups of youths, mostly on motorcycles, who are out to hound women. They pass lewd comments, make vulgar gestures and even block their way,” alleged a couple on Friday evening, seated close to the spot where 24 hours ago, Kaneet and Co. had teased and assaulted an unidentified woman.

Large patches of darkness and inadequate police cover are to blame for the growing lawlessness at the Lakes, allege regulars.

When Metro visited the Lakes early on Friday evening, groups of men were seen sitting around smoking ganja, beer bottles in hand. “This is a common sight. By late evening, these men are ready to tease and torment women visiting the Lakes,” said a girl waiting for her boyfriend.

The police plead helplessness. “The Lakes is spread over such a huge area and no more than 20 constables are deployed to keep a vigil. It is not possible to keep the Lakes free of criminal activities. Women do feel unsafe here, but there is little that the few of us can do,” said a constable on duty.

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