Nightmare on street

Stalking on rise as goons rule the roads

IT may as well be official now. Despite copious laws, no place is deemed safe for a woman — ironically enough, not home, not the workplace, not public transport, certainly not a busy road. No time is safe either. She is as vulnerable in daylight as when darkness falls. There is no comfort in place, nor solace in numbers. It may be a modern metropolis teeming with millions or the intimate confines of a village, there is no safe zone. Police presence, too, fails to reassure. If not the nagging fear of rape, stalking on road and assault is another real threat. In the latest such reprehensible violation, a Kolkata model-actor was chased and harried by over a dozen motorcycle-borne hooligans while returning home from work with a colleague around midnight. Their cab driver was pulled out and thrashed. Terrified, the victim stepped out, and exhibiting presence of mind, called up the police while also recording the incident, leading to the arrest of seven persons.  

There was all possibility of the incident ending in pure horror. No matter which state, the inertia of our police is legendary. The nearest police station did not come to their rescue despite requests, citing jurisdiction. When finally some poorly equipped cops did appear on the scene, they were pushed by the group before fleeing. The driver’s complaint was also not entertained. In an expected damage control, the Kolkata Police triumphantly announced on Twitter that an inquiry had been marked into the non-registration of an FIR. 

In 2017, a DJ, Varnika Kundu, was stalked on Chandigarh roads by two men in a car at night. The accused, who tried to force her car door open, were arrested. Stalking cases are surfacing with horrific regularity — in Punjab too — but laggard action incites perpetrators. The Kundu case is proceeding at a lazy pace. In the Kolkata incident, a senior officer hinted that the accused were locals and had been violating traffic rules for ‘quite some time’. CCTV footage will be studied to nab the others. Why was this not done earlier?

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