I Was Harassed By The Residents’ Association For Sitting In My Neighbourhood Park

I don’t know how to start typing this. I want the people responsible for this to see it, but I know they probably never will. Or I could start by just saying that day-before-yesterday, I was harassed and assaulted, upon false accusations, by the members of the DL Block Residents’ Association, Sector II, Salt Lake, Kolkata (I am also a resident of DL block).

I have been extremely physically sick for the last few days and my mental health has also been in shambles. Tired of being cooped up in my room, I asked my friend to come visit me. Not being allowed to bring friends over, we decided to go to my block’s park. My friend and I were sitting in my block’s park and he had an arm around my shoulder and he pecked me on the forehead, not more than twice. For this, a group of ladies approached us and extremely rudely told us to “sit properly”, and we were baffled because we were not sitting “improperly” in the first place, at all. After they walked away, we commented on their extremely regressive mentality which focuses itself on petty things instead of actually trying to do something good for society.

Shortly after, they got two men (apparently the police, but they were in civvies) to start harassing and threatening us, saying “amader lok achhe kintu (we’ll call our guys on you)” and once I asked them what the problem was, they told me to shut up because I’m a girl. When I refused to do so, they called the group of ladies back – this time joined by someone who appeared to be their leader and who, I later learned, is affiliated with the TMC – who appeared and began to create a huge ruckus (thus attracting a crowd), calling us horrible names, “shameless”, calling me a “bad girl”, how I’m too “brazen”, how I need to be “locked away by the female police” etc, publicly humiliating us in front of the crowd that had gathered to watch the show, like people in Kolkata tend to.

At this point, they also started accusing me of not being a resident of DL block (I am a resident of this block and stay pretty much right across the park) and how “ekhane bas bodmaishi korte ashe (she just comes here to misbehave)” – this is probably the second time in a year-and-a-half that I’ve ever even entered this park, and I was definitely not misbehaving.

I called my dad at this point (he doesn’t live here) and he told me to leave the scene, and when I tried to do so, the whole group began to physically harass, assault and manhandle me. They wrongfully detained me and restricted my movement (without being able to produce a warrant for the same – and these were the women, not the police, assaulting me), held me down, tore my hair, scratched and punched me. At this point I began to have an anxiety attack (yes, it’s medically diagnosed along with a bunch of other mental illnesses and I’m on medication, before you ask) and began to kick everything in my range, as extreme levels of anxiety tend to make one do, to which they hit me back and began shaming me saying, “oi aunty ta ke laathi marte tomar lojja korlo na? (Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for kicking that aunty?)“, when they were the first to start hitting me and I only retaliated in self-defence.

At this point, my anxiety was almost making me tip over the edge – mobs are not good for mental health, even if said mob comprises of wealthy, upper class, self-proclaimed “liberal” and “progressive” women – and they started calling me slurs in Bengali for “insane”. But I think my condition scared them a little, because they told us to go away and that they will tell the police that the issue has been resolved (they had called a police van and apparently it was on the way).

My anxiety attack lasted about four hours and my breathing and pulse did not normalise for about six hours after that (so about 10 hours in total?). My head hurts from where they pulled out my hair and punched me, I have pretty deep cuts and scratches on my body from their nails, and the ring finger of my left hand is broken. All of this over what? A FALSE accusation – we were NOT doing anything improper, we did NOT kiss or sit inappropriately in ANY way whatsoever.

This incident has left me even more physically weak than before – and I was quite sick, to begin with – not to mention the effect this has had on my mental health. I am also deeply saddened and hurt by this base and animal-like treatment of me by people who are considered to be upstanding members of society. I did not expect such behaviour from them or for them to stoop to such levels.

Keep in mind also, that I have been sexually assaulted in this same park and not a single person said anything then – but god forbid someone put their arm on my shoulder. If only these rich self-righteous vigilante types would do something that benefits society in some manner – if only they utilised all this energy to actually do some good for society.

I want to get this out there – the women in the DL Block Residents Association are liars and harassers, who will accuse, call the police on, wrongfully detain and restrict the movement of, encroach upon the personal space of, publicly humiliate and beat up a random person upon false and untrue charges. Also, even if the accusation were true – kissing in public is NOT illegal/a criminal offence here. In this situation, however, the accusations were indeed false.