Following outrage over sexual assaults on minors, a mob has demanded that the police “hand over those rapists to us” in two incidents which occurred in quick succession in the city and a neighbouring town.

 The rape of a three-and-a-half-year-old girl in the Kasba area of the city allegedly by a youth led to angry protests by locals, who held up traffic on a thoroughfare late Wednesday evening. As the police failed to hand over to them the accused, Debabrata Das, vehicles were smashed and even journalists attacked, police sources said.

 In the other incident, early on Thursday morning, a stranger accosted a Class X student and dragged her into an abandoned house in the Malipanchghara police thana area of Howrah district. But her screams, as the accused, Prahlad Singh, tried to molest her, alerted people nearby and a large crowd caught hold of him. “When the police reached the spot, the mob said he should not be arrested, but handed over to them as they knew what to do with him,” Rashid Munir Khan, Additional Deputy Commissioner (North Zone), told The Hindu over telephone.

 Although Singh was arrested and remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by a local court during the day, the protesters charged the police with inaction in the Kasba area case.

 The incident occurred on the night of December 31, but the matter did not come to light for two days until the child developed certain complications as a result of the sexual assault. The police claim that the complaint was filed on Wednesday and the culprit was arrested the same day, but the protesters were not satisfied.

 Their reservations came even as there were reports that the accused had bribed the father of the child to dissuade him from approaching the police.

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