On Friday evening, an 18-year-old girl walking from her college to a bus stop was allegedly molested in full public view by a drunk policeman under the Kathipara flyover. However, witnesses in the area allege that the police chose to shield the policeman from public outrage.
A group of taxi drivers reportedly came to the girl’s rescue, at which point the policeman, Jerald Gibbs, the official driver of the law and order wing inspector, attempted to escape. Jerald allegedly abused and yelled at the drivers for allowing the girl to escape, before escaping himself.
“A few drivers were resting under the flyover junction, and we spotted a drunk man in khaki grabbing a girl’s hand and pulling off her clothes. We rushed to the spot and tried to stop him but he began yelling abuses at us,” alleged Balachander, one of the drivers who apparently helped the girl.
Jerald, reportedly turned back, in the midst of fleeing, to attack some of the drivers who had intervened.
The policeman was then reportedly whisked away in a patrol vehicle to the St Thomas Mount police station. The enraged taxi drivers then held a road roko to protest the policeman’s behaviour, demanding an official apology from the police. S Angamuthu, a patrol officer, intervened and asked the drivers to stop their protest. “After we continued to protest, he threatened to set our cars on fire,” Balachander said.
The drivers were finally called in to the St Thomas Mount police station where the police allegedly told them not to make a big issue out of the incident. “We were told that we were ruining the girl’s life by making a big issue out of it and that we are the ones to blame,” said Balachander. The girl did not file a police complaint.
Speaking to TNM, a police official confirmed that Jerald had been suspended. However, he alleged that the taxi drivers were at fault too. “The taxi drivers were trying to take a picture of the girl as she was being molested and that is why we had to stop them as well. We have taken whatever action needs to be taken,” he said.
The official also said that the incident was not an issue of magnitude. “It was just a small misunderstanding,” he asserted.