HOWRAH: A 75-year-old woman was brutally raped and assaulted in a room she occupied next to the Indian Botanic Garden early on Saturday.
Later in the day, the survivor identified her tormentor among those agitating against lack of security in the area. Moidul Islam (28), a day labourer, was immediately detained by locals and handed over to the police. The police later learnt that Islam is part of a gang that regularly harasses women who visit the Botanic Garden.
The incident occurred at P K Roychowdhury Lane, barely 50m from the Botanic Garden boundary wall. The survivor, who cooked for households till her health permitted, lived alone in the room allotted to her by a resident of the area. Around 2.30am on Saturday, she woke up to somebody knocking on her door. When she asked who it was, a man answered, saying he had some work with her. Refusing to let him in, she went back to bed.
"Suddenly, I heard splintering of wood and realised he had kicked down the door. Before I could react, he was upon me and threatened to shoot if I raised an alarm. He raped and abused me. When I tried to shout, he punched me repeatedly in the face. He pulled out something from his waistband that resembled a firearm," the woman told cops.
When he was leaving around 5.30am, she tried to trip him. Enraged, Islam reportedly caught her by the hair and threw her out on the street. That is where morning walkers found her in an unconscious state and informed cops.
When cops arrived, locals had began an agitation seeking better policing in the area. When the survivor was being taken away to the South Howrah State General Hospital, she pointed to Islam among the agitators and identified him as the rapist.
"We have charged him with rape and assault. Though no firearm was recovered, a probe is on. We are also considering how to strengthen security in the area around Botanic Garden," said Ghulam Sorvor, ACP (South), Howrah City Police.