Kolkata not safe for women, can worsen: Actresses fear

Brishti Roy
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Kolkata–Amid a number of incidents of actresses and models getting harassed in Kolkata, celebrities feel the eastern metropolis is not “what one would call safe” and fear the situation might worsen over time.

The latest incident of Bengali television actress Brishti Roy getting obscene calls asking about her “rate”, and escort service details after unscrupulous elements pasted posters all over Kolkata suburban trains and railway stations, with the actress’s name, mugshot and mobile number, has horrified citizens.

The traumatised actress told IANS: “Today this is happening to me, tomorrow it can happen to any other girl. It has become so easy to malign a girl these days. That’s why I will fight till the culprits are nabbed.”

Over the past few months, a range of celebrities including former Miss India Universe Ushoshi Sengupta were attacked and harassed on the city streets.

A group of bike-borne youths vandalised and beat up the driver of Sengupta’s cab after one of their two wheelers bumped with the car. The youths then followed her, pelted stones at the cab and tried to snatch her phone to delete the video she had taken of the incident.

Nearly a month later, a popular Bengali television actor Swastika Dutta had a harrowing experience. She alleged on Facebook that an app cab driver “pulled” her out of the vehicle, threatened and “abused” her when she was going for a shoot.

A week back, a Bengali television actress Juhi Sengupta alleged that she along with her parents was harassed and heckled by employees of a petrol pump. Her father, a senior citizen, was even pushed by the employee during the altercation.

The actress, known for her stint in TV serial “Bhojo Gobindo”, in her social media posts said “the city is no longer safe for anyone”.

Popular film and television actress Anjana Basu agreed that celebrities and actresses were getting harassed in City of Joy. Underscoring the fear factor that haunts her, Basu conceded she doesn’t confront anyone nowadays even if someone crashes into her car consciously.

“Yes, yes, I agree that celebrities and actresses do get harassed on the streets of Kolkata but I personally haven’t faced a situation as such.

“I don’t like being on my toes all the time when I’m walking on the streets or am in my car but I have to. Even in incidents where someone crashes into my car consciously, neither I nor my driver confronts the individual due to safety reasons,” Basu, now on a trip to the US, told IANS.

Basu, known for her acting skills which she has displayed in a wide variety of roles over the past one and a half decade, rued that “present day Kolkata is not exactly what one would call safe for celebrities and citizens in general”.

“This is the current scenario of safety and security in the city of Kolkata and I fear that it will worsen over time,” added Basu, who has acted in Bengali films like “Bye Bye Bangkok”, “Byomkesh Fire Elo”, “Anghsumaner Chobi” and also in Hindi serial “Krishna kali” and film “Dum kata” – both directed by Amol Palekar.

Another Bengali film actress Parno Mittra, best known for playing the title role in Anjan Dutt’s national award winning film “Ranjana Ami Ar Asbo Na”, said her concern was more for the ordinary people than the celebrities.

“You see all this news is cropping up because we are celebrities. It is true that celebrities are being harassed. But if such things can happen to known faces, imagine what the common public is going through.

“There are commoners who are probably facing these things, and being harassed. But we are not paying attention to it because they are not celebrities,” said Mittra, whose other notable films include “Bedroom”, “Ami Aar Amar Girlfriends”, “Maach Mishti More” and “Ekla Akash”.

Mittra said she was “really scared” for her 24-year-old sister who commutes by public transport. “That is the main area of concern for citizens of West Bengal,” she told IANS.

To a query whether the situation has now deteriorated in Kolkata, once considered one of the safest cities for women, she said: “Over the past ten years, it has not been that safe, sorry to say that.”

Asked about the reasons for the present situation, she said: “You should ask the government why there is no security for women. In fact it’s just not about women, it is about males also. The other day, a male celebrity, some television actor, was harassed on the road.”

Mittra said the remedy lay in government and administration taking strict measures to increase security for people.

Mittra also recalled that the complaint of model-turned-actress Ushoshi Sengupta, wasn’t being taken by the police station initially.

“My point is if people who are known faces are facing these issues, imagine what the commoners go through.”

But Mittra said she did not foresee any problem for celebrities during next month’s Durga Puja festival.

“During the puja, security is very tight on the streets of Kolkata, to be honest. Whenever we move out, we generally go for pandal judging and like that, then we have security with us,” she said. (IANS)


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