Delhi Police on Monday arrested a boy on a complaint from two northeastern sisters who were allegedly molested and beaten up in the Delhi University area two days ago - the latest victims of sexual harassment in a city notoriously unsafe for women, particularly from the northeast.
"We have arrested a 16-year-old boy and search is underway for three others - Chunky, Lovely and a Sikh youth," Deputy Commissioner of Police (North Delhi) Devesh Srivastva said, adding that a molestation case has been registered at the Timarpur police station.
The sisters from Manipur are residents of north Delhi's Gandhi Vihar locality where they run a cyber cafe and live with their younger brother. Besides the two girls, the men also roughed up their brother when he tried to intervene.
The incident took place on Saturday night in Gandhi Vihar but did not surface until Monday morning - when newspapers reported it - because the police allegedly refused to lodge the first information report (FIR).
Madhu Chandra of the North East Support Centre, a help centre especially for the youth of the northeast living in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), to whom the girls turned for held, said: "The incident took place on Saturday night but even after the girls went to the Timarpur police station to lodge the complaint, nothing was done. They called me for help. Even after my intervention, no complaint was lodged.
"After that, when the media got the whiff of the incident, the assistant commissioner of police (ACP) of north Delhi, Suman Goel, came and spoke to the girls on Monday morning and finally a case was registered," Chandra said.
Chandra estimates that about 50 per cent of sexual harassment cases in the Delhi-NCR region target girls from the northeast. "I had a word with the girls this morning. Then the deputy commissioner of police, Devesh Srivastva, has taken their statement. The case has been registered," said ACP Goel.
On the night of the incident, one of the two sisters, aged 18, was returning home from the market when two or three men led by Chunky from the locality followed her and passed lewd comments.
On reaching their cyber cafe around 9 pm, she narrated the incident to her elder sister, who is 20, and their brother even as the men followed her and kept abusing the three of them.
"At that time the elder sister asked those people why they teased and used abusive language against her younger sister. Chunky started scolding and shouting, saying he would not leave the place and also threatened to harm them physically. She slapped one of the men when they tried to enter the cyber cafe forcibly," Srivastva said.
"After 15 minutes, the men left and sent Lovely, his friend, the Sikh youth and four others - whom the sister can recognise if brought before them," Srivastva added.
Chandra said: "While the elder sister suffered bruises on her face, the younger sister's arm was dislodged. When the brother tried to intervene, he was also beaten up until he started bleeding. Seeing all of this, a northeastern boy called me up and I asked them to call the police."
The police apparently asked them to identify the accused and said only then would the FIR be lodged.
This is not the first time that girls from the northeast have faced sexual harassment in the capital and the NCR.
On Dec 23, the Northeast Support Centre received a complaint from a girl from Manipur working as a receptionist in a private company in Gurgaon that her boss had molested her in the office.
Similarly, a minor northeastern girl in Gurgaon was molested thrice in December by her house owner.
There are approximately 85,000 youth from the northeast living and working in the Delhi-NCR.