Renewed cop give attention to unsafe streets in Kolkata

KOLKATA: A senior US consulate official’s complaint of molestation against a third year college student at Short Street near on Wednesday night revealed a chink in the safety armour of Kolkata’s “happening zone”.
The accused was arrested shortly after the incident around 10.30pm.

“From deserted streets to absence of patrolling on less frequented roads (like Short Street where the incident took place and ), there are certain issues that need immediate attention,” a regular visitor to the party hub told TOI.

The police said a few measures have already been suggested, one of them being increasing cop presence in the area at night. Also, patrol teams in specific areas have been asked to report if street lights in less frequented roads adjoining Park Street-Middleton Street-Camac Street were shadowed by overgrown trees.

“We have applied for the victim to record her statement before the magistrate,” said a senior IPS officer. “We already have a system in place to ensure safety for all, especially women. We are also looking at the suggestions to check if those can be incorporated to check crimes against women.” Another suggestion is to deploy cops in plain clothes at night.

“We have a significant presence of cops from the Park Street and police stations in the area during the day, especially when schools and colleges are open. We are now keeping a few plain clothes policemen on duty even at night,” said the police.

Initial investigations have revealed that the accused had tried to pick up a conversation with the US consulate official multiple times before allegedly groping her. “Stalking is often not taken seriously. But unless checked, this only emboldens the culprit. We are checking images to see whether he is a habitual offender or not, as is being claimed in certain quarters,” said an investigating officer. It were the images of a CCTV camera that led to the arrest of the student on Wednesday night. The area is now under the vigillance of over 80 CCTV cameras, much higher than that in 2015, when a college student was stalked.

“But sometimes, its pictures are blurred owing to poor maintenance by the third party contracted and sometimes, overgrown tree branches or billboards block the view. We now take periodic stock of such incidents. A programme has been taken up to reach out to locals and regular visitors and sensitize them about reporting crimes,” said an officer from the south division.

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