This is an incident from six years back. My sister, and her friend were returning via autorickshaw from their tuitions . It was already quite late, and a male passenger was sitting with them in the back seat! Suddenly, my sister noticed, that her friend was fidgety...she was nervously looking at her feet. Taking a closer look, sis found that the man was repeatedly trying to adjust his shoe laces or socks , and on that pretext, touching her friend's bare leg , below the hem of her skirt ! Sister, owing to her typical firebrand nature, immediately protested, and asked the passenger to leave the seat. But he was adamant, and only when the autodriver stepped in to ask the passenger to get down did he oblige.
This was just a trivial case of groping ,in Kolkata, which was , on course to become a hub for some of the most notorious offences against girls in the coming years. My sister and her friend were lucky, that they could get away from an eve-teaser , by taking the upper hand, but the same good fortune did not befall some others, like the Nirbhaya case in New Delhi, or Barasat's Rinku Das , or Park Street's Suzette Jordan. Since the New Delhi case was reoprted all over India, and is well known , I'm referring to two other instances in the recent past, that were in my city , Kolkata. Let's turn the clock back again.
February 2011, Kolkata was stunned at the news of the murder of Rajib Das, a 16year old boy, who was escorting his call centre employee sister Rinku back home, on his bicycle at 10pm,in Barasat, on the outskirts of Kolkata. They were ambushed by drunken eve-teasers , who tried molesting the sister and then wanted to take her away, but when the brave brother protested, he was brutally thrashed around by the goons , and later, stabbed. The boy finally succumbed to his injuries. All this took place only about a 100 metres from the District Magistrate's Bungalow , where the guards refused to intervene , citing 'protocols' , and only gave the phone number of the police station to the sister , who was frantically searching for help. They were helpless victims for a period of 20 minutes , when Barasat police station was barely 1 Km away from the spot. Nobody came to their rescue, even though the spot was not completely desolate, due to fear of the armed goons.
Jump to February 2012, and this time , a horrific tale of a gang rape of a woman , in the heart of the city, at Park Street. The victim, who was bold enough to come out and present her case before the world, Suzette Jordan , was sexually assaulted at gunpoint by several businessmen inside a car, after a stint at a posh nightclub . The case reached high-profile status, as influential people got involved in the dealings , with the government ending up in a huge mess with conflicting renditions of the story by top ranking officials. The city of joy erupted in protests, and the efforts to nab the culprits were escalated to greater levels.
The purpose of me recalling two such gruesome events in the recent past is to highlight the fact that we are so alone in this big, busy world of today. Crimes have gotten more ruthless,and nobody can rest easy if a family member, especially a female, is outside till late hours. There is no false sense of security too, as even a kid knows that Kolkata is no longer an "oasis of peace" , as had been famously claimed by a ruling Chiefminister. In this age of uncertainty, the latest Android app Smart Suraksha takes the cake for coming up with something, that can be immensely helpful to the woman of today! Built for the Android platform of smartphones, it is a small app, that can be easily installed from the Google play store on all android phones, and its clutter free , seamless design makes sure that even the non-tech-savvy ones don't find it difficult to use.
The app is set to send 5 distress SMSes to five pre-determined people on a person's call list on a single button press , in case of an emergency , and will also notify the nearest police station of the problem. What's more, even if the person's GPS is turned off on her phone, the exact location from where the distress messages are coming will be notified, so that aid can be rushed to her. Above everything, this app can now calm the mind of women, who are all too nervous, when they are alone . After the pepper-spray came in vogue, this was just the thing that the dwindling standards of humanity in the society needed , because the pepper-spray can come good against Roadside Romeos and alcoholics, but not against armed criminals.
I wish the app spreads in popularity rapidly amongst the masses, because every alternate person is now using a smartphone. Had it been developed a few years back , the events of Barasat and Park Street might have been entirely different. I wish they had Smart Suraksha with them ! In both the instances, the Police Stations were only a few minutes away from the crime spots, and the perpetrators of crime could have been caught red-handed.
Here's to wishing Smart Suraksha a very successful journey. It has been given the responsibility to pave the way for a more secure India , so that people think twice before setting their hands on an unfortunate victim.