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BARASAT: A 16-year-old girl returning home alone in the evening seemed like an easy target for two drunken men. They reached out to grab her, only to get a fistful of fury.
The teenager punched them in the face, kicked them where it hurts most, left them bloody, battered and bewildered — and running for their lives. In Madhyamgram, the northern outskirts of Kolkata where molestation and rape are almost an everyday nightmare, the story of a fightback has turned this karate girl into an instant hero.
When TOI spoke to her, she was all charged up and still in sparring mode. “Mere mukh pathiye diyechi (I smashed their faces). They got what they deserved. I am not afraid of them,” the braveheart said. “I started learning karate a year ago because I feared I might be sexually assaulted. Crimes against women have risen alarmingly in our part of town. I wanted to be able to defend myself and I am glad I did,” she said.
The duo, who are on the run, are habitual offenders. They are in a group of five that hangs around Doltala area, harassing any woman who passes by. “They had been teasing me and my friend for the past few weeks. I had complained against them to local people but no one dared speak a word against them. They are a terror for women,” she said. “I told myself that if it crossed a line, I would fight back.”
On Monday evening, she was returning home from karate class, clad in a track suit, when the duo spotted her. “They were on bicycles. They suddenly sped towards me and pushed me hard. I fell down. They were drunk and hurled filthy abuses at me. When I protested, they grabbed my hand and tried to drag me away,” she said.
Passersby stood stunned. Still no one came forward to help. The battered duo staggered to their feet, got back on their cycles and pedaled away, threatening to teach her a lesson. Local resident Shankari Haldar, who witnessed her in action, said, “I was stunned by her courage. She kicked and punched the youths and they fell flat. But it is unfortunate that they managed to flee. Other girls should also learn martial arts to keep such criminals at bay.”
The girl filed an FIR. Police say they have identified one of the accused and raids are on to arrest them. “When I started learning karate, my parents did not support me. Now I am sure I will never stop practicing martial arts.”