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Spate of Rape Incidents in West Bengal Raises Question over Safety of Women

Burdwan East district has seen a series of brutal rape incidents in July with three cases being reported within four days.
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Kolkata: West Bengal is seeing a spate of violence against women, especially those from the Adivasi communities. A series of brutal rape incidents took place in Burdwan East district this month with three cases being reported within four days.

This comes after a shocking incident in Maldah’s Habibpur area last month where an Adivasi teen was brutally raped while her younger sister was kept hostage and abused. The incident led to the mother of the two girls dying due to shock.

In the first incident in Burdwan on July 1, a half-burnt, strangulated dead body of a woman aged beteen 23-24 years was retrieved from the banks of Damodar river after morning walkers found the body and reported it to the police .

According to initial investigations, the woman might have been raped and murdered in some other place and then her body was burnt. The police, as per latest reports, are still unable to trace the culprits. The incident happened near Kanchannagar in Burdwan town area. The victim’s face and vital  organs were doused in flames by the assilants and the gory sight has been haunting for the morning walkers who first saw the dead body.

In another incident in the district, a 50-year-old tribal woman, a widow and a mother, was  allegedly raped  by supporters of the ruling Trinamool Congress in Galsi on July 1. The woman was abducted from a wedding she was attending and gangraped by the accused men. Only one arrests has been made so far in the incident though the woman had named four persons in the prelimnary FIR.

Yet again on July 4, a 12-year-old Adivasi girl was raped by two men at Dewandighi area of the same district, Burdwan East. The incident happened when the girl was returning home from a marriage ceremony.

The Galsi and Damodar incidents happening during the women’s returnf from weddings at night bears an uncanny resemblance to the Habibpur incident in Maldah, where the victims were abducted from a wedding ceremony.

In the Galsi incident, the tortured woman was allegedly forced by ruling party activists to not disclose the political affilation of the accused, However, in a devasted state, she confided to visiting members of the Left-affiliated All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) that she had to live in the village, and hence, she has to bear the torture. AIDWA state president Anju Kar,  Suparna Banerjee, Manimala Das and other women leaders visited and comforted the woman at her home .

The recent incidents are indicative of the state of law and order in West Bengal, which has also witnessed a spurt of post-poll violence after results were declared in May. Political analysts are also pointing at the inefficiency of the police in apprehending the culprits and the rise in sexual assault and rape despite the state having a woman Chief Minister at the helm.

CM Mamata Banerjee has so far has not commented on the atrocious incidents even though she and her party, during the Governor's address,  have claimed West Bengal to be an oasis of peace for women. 

The AIDWA in a press release has condemned the heinous crimes committed in the last few days in the state. Tribal women and homemakers have borne the brunt of the rape incidents, they noted. They also mentioned with disdain that only in East Burdwan district, three rape incidents have happened in four days till July 4. 

The safety of women is being advertised as having good standard in the state while in reality it is plummeting to new lows every week, the AIDWA said.

They have also marked that the rape survivors are now spending fearful days under the TMC‘s watch. Even when AIDWA leadership went to meet them some of these women, TMC members were continuously present there so that the victims do not dare open their mouth before the AIDWA team vising them, the women’s orgnaisation claimed. AIDWA President Anju Kar and Secretary Koninika Ghosh slammed the TMC government saying that the advertisement jargon of "Banglar meye" used for CM Banerjee could only be justified if the women of the state lived in safe environment unlike the current situation where victims are being “hounded” so that they “do not open their mouth.”

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