Bengal women's panel seeks report on horrific experience of French woman

Kolkata, July 19 (IANS) The West Bengal Women's Commission has sought a report from the police on the horrific experience of a French woman, who was chased through the lanes of a posh south Kolkata locality by inebriated bikers.

The woman was chased and harassed despite being accompanied by a male colleague, in the wee hours of Sunday.

"We have asked for a report from the police on the incident, and what steps they have taken," state Women's Commission chairperson Sunanda Mukherjee told IANS Friday.

To escape her four tormentors, the woman - a trainee at the Alliance Francaise du Bengale - was forced to take refuge behind taxis and construction material. In desperation, she scaled the gate of an apartment complex Sunday.

The woman was returning to her Jodhpur Park residence after attending the advance French National Day party at the Alliance Francaise du Bengale and spending time at a friend's place.

After she jumped into the apartment complex, she was driven home by her male colleague and some locals.

The Frenchman also had a torrid time, as he was chased and slapped by the bikers. One of the men even loudly proclaimed that he intended to rape the woman.

The woman's commission chairperson, however, said it is not possible for the law enforcing agencies to take preventive action in such crimes.

"Women have never been secure in the dead of the night on the streets, be it Park Street or Jodhpur Park, or any other part of India. But it is not possible for the police to identify persons in advance who may behave crookedly after seeing a woman," she said.

On Sunday, the police rounded up the four alleged culprits under bailable charges of voluntarily causing hurt, wrongfully restraining a person, using word, gesture or act to insult the modesty of a woman and being an abettor present when the act is committed.

One of the four culprits got bail soon afterwards.

Only after local media took up the issue did the police swing into action. By then, the French woman had left the city, cutting short her training.

The police took a re-look at the complaint, spoke to the Frenchman and slapped more stringent non-bailable charges on the alleged culprits, which, if proved, could land them in jail for life.

They have now been accused of attempt to murder, and assault or criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty.

However, the police were yet to arrest Kanai Naskar, the man released on bail.

"We have moved the court seeking cancellation of his bail, saying there are more serious charges against him. We are waiting for the court's permission," city police deputy commissioner South East Division Debabrata Das told IANS.

When contacted, a senior official of Alliance Francaise refused to comment.

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