Monday, 30th October 2017

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Tintin scares off girl's tormentors

A pet dog named Tintin saved a Class XII girl in Salt Lake from three stalkers who had tried to drag her into a construction site when the two of them were taking a stroll near their home around 11pm.

By Tamaghna Banerjee and Mayukh Sengupta
  • Published 9.02.16
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A pet dog named Tintin saved a Class XII girl in Salt Lake from three stalkers who had tried to drag her into a construction site when the two of them were taking a stroll near their home around 11pm.

Tintin wouldn't stop growling and barking when two of the men, who had apparently been following their target for some time, attempted to lift her while another muffled her from behind. The commotion created by the dog alerted the girl's father and several neighbours, forcing the assailants to let go of her as one door after another opened along the lane.

Salt Lake's DD Block, where the incident occurred last Saturday, is a shout away from City Centre, which would have been wide awake around that time.

The lane where the girl was attacked wasn't deserted either. A wedding was underway at a ceremony hall barely 25 metres away.

Two of the three accused were caught after the girl, shocked and sobbing, was escorted back into her home by her parents. The third was arrested at Ultadanga railway station on Sunday. The girl has since identified all three, the police said.

"I shudder to think what would have happened to my daughter had Tintin not been there with her. My daughter was unable to scream for help because she had been muffled. It was only because of our dog that my husband and neighbours came to know that something was wrong," said the Class XII student's mother, running her fingers through Tintin's coat on Monday.

Any mother with a daughter at home would feel a shiver down her spine at the thought. Three men had been sentenced to death five days earlier for raping and murdering a 20-year-old college girl in Kamduni in 2013, but Saturday's incident has reinforced the fear that the streets are no safer for women than they were earlier.

The student targeted in Salt Lake had taken Tintin for a walk almost immediately after she and her family returned home from the Book Fair at Milan Mela, on the Bypass. She had locked the door grille of her house from outside before walking down the dimly lit lane with a row of cars parked alongside, a scene typical of Salt Lake.

"My daughter was fiddling with her phone and Tintin was by her side when one of the assailants grabbed her from behind and put a hand over her mouth. The other two lifted her and began dragging her towards an under-construction house barely 10 metres away," her mother recounted.

Since it was unusual for Tintin to bark without a pause unless provoked, the girl's father went to a first-floor window and looked out to find his daughter being attacked. He came running down the stairs, only to find the door grille locked. He began to scream for assistance.

A few neighbours, a private guard on duty outside the ceremony hall and a tea stall owner ran towards the girl to help, seeing which the three accused ran inside the incomplete building.

"My daughter ran back home crying. But once she had regained her composure, she resolved to get her tormentors punished. We went to the building that is under construction with some of our neighbours to look for the trio and also informed the police," the girl's mother said.

The Class XII student identified two of the assailants among 25-odd workers at the site. The building's caretaker, who had initially requested the girl's parents to pardon the duo, denied knowing them after the police arrived.

The arrested men are Tapas Rishi Das, 25, and Dipankar Mondal, 30. Their alleged accomplice, 22-year-old Atanu Mondal, was arrested on the basis of information provided by them.

"All three youths were drunk and have admitted to their crime. We will ensure they get adequate punishment," said an officer at Bidhannagar North police station.

The men have been booked under sections 354 (molestation), 341 (wrongfully restraining a person), 363 (kidnapping) and 511 (attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life) of the Indian Penal Code. The trio were produced in a Salt Lake court on Sunday and remanded in judicial custody for seven days.

Salt Lake, a sprawling township with scores of VIP residents, has long been marked by desolate and poorly illuminated lanes. Add to that a less-than-adequate police force when it comes to the square kilometre:cop ratio. Many working women who live in the township and work elsewhere feel unsafe walking back from the nearest bus or autorickshaw stop at night and often call a male member of the family to escort them home.

"It is a scary thought that our daughters are not safe even in their own neighbourhood. The police should take stringent action against these criminals so that they are the ones who are struck by fear instead of parents like us," said a woman who has been living in Salt Lake for 25 years.

What steps must be taken to make women feel safer inSalt Lake? Tell ttmetro@abpmail.com