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Drink fuels car stalker gang

Kestopur: Three of the five men arrested for allegedly stalking and molesting a 26-year-old woman in Kestopur earlier this week were allegedly drinking inside a Hyundai Verna when the recipient of their unwanted attention passed by, investigators said on Friday.

The vehicle belongs to Biswajit Majumder, a 36-year-old builder who also owns a plywood store in Kestopur. Biswajit, a married man with a son in Class IX, was at the wheel when the woman noticed the Verna following her.

The incident occurred on Tuesday evening near the base of a footbridge that connects Kestopur with Salt Lake near the 206 bus stop, according to the complaint lodged at Baguiati police station.

Biswajit and three of the other arrested men - his employee Kishore Biswas, 32, real estate broker Abhishek Das, 35, and Sajal Das, 30, who assists his builder brother - allegedly stalked, accosted and molested the woman before she could reach her rented accommodation.

A police officer identified the fifth accused as Abhishek Bachar, a 29-year-old resident of Bongaon in North 24-Parganas. He was Biswajit's guest that evening.

The men have been charged under sections 354D (stalking), 509 (uttering any word or making any gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 341 (wrongfully restraining any person) of the Indian Penal Code.

If convicted, the maximum punishment is three years' imprisonment. They were produced before a court in Barasat that sentenced them to a three-day police remand.

All the accused except Abhishek live in houses along the banks of the Kestopur canal in Samarpally, not far from where the woman was allegedly targeted. They have confessed to drinking in the car, which is an offence but no so uncommon in this city at night.

"They have also told us that they called her names, used expletives and stalked her after she got off the footbridge," the police officer said.

The five were arrested after the police were alerted by a post on Bidhannagar City Police's Facebook page.

In the post, a man wrote that a family member was stalked by a group of men near the footbridge around 9.30pm on Tuesday. The complaint was posted around 3am on Wednesday, based on which the police swung into action.

When she was contacted by the police, the woman, who is from Assam, provided the registration number of the car used by the accused. The police traced the car to Biswajit, who was the first to be picked up. "We questioned him about the others and he led us to them," the officer said.

The traumatised woman has since left for her sister's house, her landlord said.

Local councillor Bikash Naskar said he would look into allegations of inadequate illumination in that area.

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