Silchar: Different organisations in Assam’s Dima Hasao district have vented their fury over the failure of the police to nab the accused of a sexual harassment case even after five days of the alleged incident.

A girl lodged an FIR with Haflong police station on Monday (April 11) against a man Pondesh Sengyung alias Jipseng. As per the complaint, Pondesh sexually harassed the girl on Convent Road in Haflong town on April 9 when she was going to a friend’s house. Pondesh, who followed her for a lot of time in a blue car before approaching her, fled immediately after she raised an alarm, the complaint stated.

A case (case number – 26/22) under Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), 354D (stalking) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered and a probe initiated.

The girl posted about the alleged incident on social media, after which many other girls joined in a “MeToo Movement” claiming that they were also molested / sexually harassed by Pondesh in the past. It is being presumed that the other girls did not go to the police because of reasons like fear of the impact on social reputation and hassles of involving in and continuing legal matters.

Talking to EastMojo on Thursday, the president of the Dimasa Mothers’ Association, Bimala Langthasa, said it was shameful that the police have not nabbed the accused even though five days have passed since the incident. The police department should intensify its activities to nab Pondesh at the earliest, she said, adding that the authorities also need to take effective measures to ensure women’s safety across the district.

She said they (Dimasa Mothers’ Association and a few organisations) had met the deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of Dima Hasao district after the alleged incident and demanded the arrest of the molester, but the accused has not been apprehended yet. “We will organise a meeting on Sunday to finalise a protest demonstration. We will go for the movement if the accused is not held soon,” she said.

Another member of Dimasa Mothers’ Association Maifal Kemprai said Dima Hasao/Haflong used to be considered a very safe place for women, but the incident on Saturday has sparked fear and anxiety among people. It has raised serious questions about women’s safety across the district, she said.

She said it has also come to light that Pondesh had molested many other girls, but those incidents were not reported to the police because of various reasons. Further, she demanded that the alleged molester be arrested and strict action taken against him for the crime.

Parbati Thaosen, a member of Shakti Mahila Mandal, expressed deep concern over the alleged incident and urged the authorities to treat the matter seriously and create a safe and secure atmosphere for women across the district. She urged the other organisations of Dima Hasao to come together and raise a strong and united voice so that the issues get maximum attention of the administration and the victim gets justice.

Dimasa Students’ Union’s general secretary Pramith Sengyung said the police should take strict action to nab the perpetrator and punish him as per law. The police department should come up with necessary action to set an example so that no one even thinks of doing such crimes, Pramith said.

Sources said the accused’s car, which did not have any registration number plate, had been recovered by the police from an area in Haflong. A search is on to nab Pondesh, the sources said.

Haflong police station’s officer-in-charge R. Hazarika told reporters that police were looking for Pondesh and hoped he would be held soon.

Dima Hasao superintendent of police Jayant Singh has announced a cash reward of Rs. 50,000 if anyone can provide information about Pondesh and help the police to track him down. At a news conference earlier this week, SP Jayant Singh said police had launched a manhunt to nab the accused and that Pondesh would not be able to evade the police for very long.

The SP sought the help and cooperation of the people of Dima Hasao and said a cash reward of Rs. 50,000 would be given if any person can help the police in nabbing the accused. The identity of the person, who helps the police, will be kept secret. Anyone, who comes to know any information about Pondesh or can help the police to find him out, can contact their nearest police station/outpost or can contact this phone number 8638389873, the SP said.

The SP was not available for comments on Thursday.

Dima Hasao district has witnessed several crimes against women (suspected/alleged rapes) in the past three to four years. A nine-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped by three persons in a remote village of Dihako in Dima Hasao in August 2020. A girl was allegedly raped by a man in her house in Old Maibang in April 2018. In January 2018 a six-year-old girl was suspected to be raped and then killed by a 13-year-old boy in Umrangso.

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