Bus molest victim fights back

A young woman dragged her co-passenger on an Esplanade-bound bus to a police station on Wednesday morning for allegedly molesting

and trying to take a picture of her with his mobile-phone camera.

The victim had faced complaints from passengers in a hurry to reach work when she asked the driver to make an unscheduled stop near Cossipore police station, off BT Road, so that she could teach accused Rabi Singh, 29, a lesson.

Rabi, a mason, had allegedly been harassing her in front of other passengers, most of whom allegedly couldn't be bothered about her plight.

"She told us the accused wouldn't stop nudging her with his leg despite several warnings. She couldn't take it anymore when he trained his mobile-phone camera on her," said an officer at Cossipore police station.

Only one male co-passenger sympathised with her, she told the cops. The rest, according to her, either stayed quiet or protested when she asked the bus driver to stop.

The victim, who runs a travel agency from her north Calcutta home, had boarded the 34B bus at Bonhooghly around 10.30am. Rabi has been arrested and charged with "outraging the modesty of a woman".

The incident is just one of many that occur every day on buses, local trains and even the Metro. The welcome change is that victims of harassment have begun to fight back just as the woman on the 34B bus did on Wednesday.

"There is no alternative to raising your voice. If educated women do not raise their voices against harassment, who will?" said another young woman who had recently lodged a complaint about harassment by a co-passenger at Tollygunge Metro station.

Public transport in Delhi is notorious for women being molested or harassed and Calcutta is walking the same path to shame, according to several young commuters Metro spoke to.

Most of them also spoke about the insensitivity of other passengers, including women, towards victims of harassment. What stood out on Wednesday was that the victim braved the complaints of co-passengers more worried about being delayed than about her plight.

Police officers in Lalbazar said the trend had been to "accept" any such incident as one of the hazards of using public transport. Not any longer.

A resident of Sovabazar Street in north Calcutta lodged a complaint against a neighbour, Surojit Roy, on Wednesday for allegedly making indecent remarks. He was arrested and taken to Shyampukur police station.

A 21-year-old college student who had been allegedly molested by an auto driver and his friend near Bansdroni last month has no regrets that she chose to file a complaint. "When I protested, there was nobody by my side. My only thought was, other girls should not suffer what I went through. People still say that the auto driver against whom I complained may harm me. But I don't care. Now that I have registered my protest, I feel much safer and confident," she said.

The driver had allegedly offered the student Rs 1,000 to "entertain him" after his friend molested her in the auto. She quickly got off at a stoppage before her destination and alerted people in the locality, resulting in the duo's arrest.

Metro Railway, which had last year received six written complaints about harassment on trains and stations, has reported a "substantial increase" in the number of such incidents being reported to the authorities. A special task force assigned to prevent such incidents and help victims has been on the job for more than a fortnight.

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