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7 Feb 2017

Girl's quick-thinking leads to stalker arrest - Class XII student gives mother's cellphone number to stranger and escapes

Ramesh Agarwal
AVIJIT SINHA and BIRESWAR BANERJEE, TT, Siliguri, Feb. 6: A quick-thinking by a schoolgirl allegedly being stalked by a stranger here yesterday evening made her slip away from him and led to his arrest today.
Ramesh Agarwal, a resident of Chamurchi in Jalpaiguri district, was caught with the help of Nantu Paul, a Trinamul councillor at Siliguri Municipal Corporation, and handed over to police today.
The girl, who studies in Class XII at a school in the Darjeeling hills, was approached by the man, aged around 40 years, while she was returning home after tuitions.
According to her family members, when she reached a near-deserted lane close to her house around 7.30pm, the man, who was on a two-wheeler, stopped and called her.
"My daughter initially thought that he was known to our family and so, responded. However, soon, she realised that he didn't know her as he asked her name, place of stay and some more details. When she quit the conversation and was about to leave, the man offered her a lift to her house," the girl's mother said.
The girl refused and then, the man asked for her cellphone number.
"My daughter acted quickly and gave her my number. She could then return home safely," the mother said.
Soon, text messages started coming in from an unknown number on the woman's cellphone.
The man, sources said, introduced himself as Sonu Garg, a resident of Jyotinagar in Siliguri. He went on sending messages, asking for more details about the girl.
"He could not realise that I am handling the phone and not my daughter. Initially, I thought of rebuking him but later felt that he should face the consequences for his act. So, I kept on replying to his messages," the girl's mother said.
This morning, he again sent a text, seeking an appointment with the girl at 9.30am. Her mother fixed a spot in front of a sweet shop along a prominent road in Siliguri.
The girl's mother called up councillor Paul and narrated to him the incident. "He assured me of all necessary help and said the stalker would be nabbed," she said.
Ramesh reached the designated spot around 9.30am. For easy identification, he had said he would be riding a "grey-coloured" two-wheeler.
Meanwhile, Paul had informed some youths, who, along with the councillor and the girl's parents, were waiting for Ramesh.
"He reached in front of the sweet shop and made a phone call to the woman's number. We identified him and caught him," Paul said.
Police at Panitanki Outpost that functions under Siliguri police station were informed.
Paul and his associates made Ramesh apologise to the girl's parents and give a written undertaking, mentioning his act and pledging that he would "never do this type of things in life".
In the undertaking, he wrote that he wanted to befriend the girl and had sent text messages to the number she had given him.
"We appreciate the girl for her quick thinking. Her instant decision made her move away from the stalker and helped in nabbing him. The man has introduced himself as a resident of Chamurchi. We have requested the police to probe the case and find out what he is doing in Siliguri. We suspect that he had some vile plans as he insisted on the girl mounting his two-wheeler by offering her lift," Paul said.
The councillor felicitated the girl's mother in his office.
She has filed a complaint with the police against Ramesh.
"We thought such persons should not be allowed to go free. We could have reprimanded him over the phone but there was always a chance that he would disturb my daughter again or would keep on sending messages to my phone," the mother said.
The police said they were yet to find out the occupation of Ramesh.
Officials of Siliguri Metropolitan Police said Ramesh had been arrested and booked under Sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and 354 (d) (stalking) of the IPC.
"We have arrested the person. Our officers are investigating the case," Gaurav Lal, the deputy commissioner (east zone-I) of the SMP, said.

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