A 52-year-old PWD executive engineer was left with nine stitches on his head after he and more than 10 other residents of New Town were assaulted when they tried to rescue a woman who was being teased on Sunday night.
The 35-year-old woman, who runs a business, was walking back home to BC Block, near Snehodiya (a senior citizens’ home), around 8.30pm when she was allegedly teased by a group of labourers.
The alleged perpetrators were sitting outside a building under construction in BF Block, a stone’s throw from her home, an officer of the Bidhannagar commissionerate said.
Many women who live in New Town and work in offices in the township or in Sector V prefer to walk back home after their shift. Many choose to take a stroll after dinner as roads are emptier then.
“The labourers started teasing and making lewd gestures at me as soon as they spotted me. Some even stalked me,” said the woman.
She said she did not stop after hearing the lewd comments and walked towards a group of men, mostly in their 50s and 60s, who were sitting on chairs outside an apartment in BC Block.
“I narrated my ordeal to them and they immediately came to my aid. They proceeded to confront the men and asked me to accompany them,” said the woman, who runs a travel and tour company.
“A few of the alleged molesters fled after the residents protested and challenged them,” said Naren Chakraborty, the chairman of the BC Block Residents’ Association.
However, a few minutes later, the men returned riding a car and a motorcycle and allegedly tried to run over some of the residents.
“A man stepped out of the car and started shouting ‘who hit my boys?’ before asking the rest of the labourers to assault the residents who dared to stand by me,” said the woman.
The residents protested after the car screeched to a halt inches away from a couple of elderly men. The labourers then allegedly started hitting them with plastic chairs.
One of the men allegedly hit Debabrata Ranu, an executive engineer of the state PWD, multiple times with a chair.
“I cried out in pain and realised that there was blood all over my shirt. My neighbours tried to come to my rescue but even they were not spared. The men kept raining blows on my neighbours, too,” said Ranu.
The engineer was rushed to a hospital nearby, where doctors had to administer nine stitches to close a wound on his head.
As word of the incident spread, members of the citizen’s resistance group and Samaresh Das, of the New Town Forum and News, an NGO, reached the spot and called the cops.
A police team reached the spot and picked up six labourers, an officer of the New Town police station said. Four of the labourers are from South 24-Parganas and one each is from Midnapore and Nadia.
Das said it was “extremely worrying” that such incidents were happening at regular intervals despite the formation of the New Town Resistance Group to keep perpetrators in check.
“We are trying our best but a section of outsiders is creating such a nuisance. The place where the incident happened is quite populated and there were people out on the streets but that was hardly a deterrent for these men,” Das said.
Barely 10 days back, two women walking home after rehearsals for a dance recital to be staged during Durga Puja were allegedly stalked and harassed by men unloading sand from a truck in New Town’s BC Block.