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West Bengal: 15 Alleged Rape Cases in 40 Days; Widespread Outrage Over CM’s ‘Remark

In several cases, the accused, as also some arrested, are either local TMC leaders or workers, say reports.
West Bengal: 15 Alleged Rape Cases in 40 Days; Widespread Outrage Over CM’s ‘Remark

Kolkata: With 15 alleged rape cases in 40 days, West Bengal is turning into the country’s ‘rape state’, with the survivors ranging from a Class 4 student to adolescent girls to a scheme worker and housewives. The accused in these cases are either ruling party (Trinamool Congress) workers-turned-dons of the area as also policemen.

The rise in rape cases started from March 3, when in Sagar Islands of  South 24 parganas  district, a Class 4 student was allegedly raped by a TMC worker .

On March 22, in Bashirhaat  a  tribal woman was allegedly raped, again by a TMC worker .

On March 24, once again in Bashirhaat,  an 11-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a local TMC leader.

On the same day, in Keshpur,  a home tutor raped by allegedly  by a police personnel.

On April 1, in Harsishchandrapur of Malda  district,  a 14-year- old girl was gang-raped. Two arrested men are TMC workers.

 On April 1, in Galsi of Burdwan, an ICDS (government scheme) worker was raped allegedly by a TMC worker. The police and a local TMC leader also reportedly threated the ICDS worker with dire consequence if she reported the rape .

On April 4, in Hanskhali, during the birthday party of a TMC leader’s son,ruling party workers allegedly raped and killed  a Class 9 student  and then burnt the body using kerosene .

On April 10, in Namkhana, a housewife was raped and then set in fire in a bid to kill her.

On April 10, in Bolpur , tribal girl was allegedly raped by a TMC leader, who has been arrested.

These are among some cases that show the spurt in rape incidents in which the involvement of TMC leaders and worker has been alleged.

The rise in such incidents has perturbed civil society members and intelligentsia of the state as well as ordinary people. What has upset many is Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s statement has said especially of in the Hanskhali rape case.  “What will you say, is it a rape or was she pregnant, or did she have a love affair, or was her health in bad shape, or was she beaten up by someone.”

The CM also questioned the family members of the victim as to why the FIR was lodged on April 10 in the local policed station, when the incident took place on April 4.

This is despite it being widely reported that on the day of the incident itself, the family members of the victim went to the police station to lodge a complaint and were refused by the Hanskhali police station. Banerjee went on to say that “in West Bengal everybody is in TMC. If the son does any love affair, why should TMC be dragged into it?”

The CM’s statement drew widespread condemnation across the state and the Calcutta High Court intervened, ordering that the probe, barring the Hanskhali incident, should be done by a special investigation team to be headed by Damayanti Sen, a senior IPS officer, who was instrumental in bringing to the book the accused persons in the infamous Park Street rape case of 2013. 

The court has also commented that these sorts of statements affect the neutrality of probe.  State governor Jagdeep Dhankar also tweeted that those who are in Constitutional posts should not say things that could affect the probe.

It may be recalled that in spite of the state government’s reservations, the Hanskhali rape incident has been handed over to the CBI by a division bench of the Calcutta High Court.

Commenting on the rising incidents of rape, CPI(M) state secretary Mohd Salim,  condemning the “ghastly” Hanskhali and other incidents, has called for the Chief Minister’s apology  for her “irresponsible” statement. He said Bengal is seeing incidents, such as the Unnao rape case (where the victim’s body was burnt late night by the police), or the Kathua rape case of an 8-year-old girl. “She (the CM) has taken the country to an extreme low level,” Salim told NewsClick .

The All India Democratic Women’s Association state secretary Kanika Ghosh, said in a press statement, that in the Hanskhali incident,  the manner in which evidence was being compromised, as also the statement of the chief minister regarding same, was “derogatory  and insulting” to women.

AIDWA has also called for statewide protests on Wednesday against the rising incidents of rape in the state .

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