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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Bengal gang-rape case: SC issues notice to state government

Agencies  New Delhi, January 24, 2014
First Published: 11:41 IST(24/1/2014) | Last Updated: 12:15 IST(24/1/2014)

The Supreme Court on Friday took suo motu cognisance of the gang-rape of a 20-year old tribal woman in West Bengal's Birbhum district and described the incident as "very disturbing".

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The apex court bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam also issued notice to the West Bengal government.

"It is a very disturbing news. We take suo motu cognizance of it," said Chief Justice Sathasivam.

The CJI also directed the Birbhum district magistrate to inquire into the matter and submit a report within a week.  

The 20-year-old woman was allegedly gang-raped on the orders of the salishi sabha - equivalent of khap panchayats - on Tuesday and on Thursday all the 13 men accused of gang-raping the woman were sent to judicial custody for 14 days by the additional chief judicial magistrate.

They were charged under Section 341 (wrongful confinement), Section 376(D) (gang-rape) and Section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

Inspector general of police (western range) Sidhinath Gupta said, "We'll make a fresh appeal before the court to take all the 13 accused into police custody for further investigations."

The Mamata Banerjee government had on Thursday ordered the removal of the superintendent of police, C Sudhakar, following the countrywide shock triggered by the gang-rape.

The incident happened at Subalpur village within Labhpur police station area limits in Birbhum district, about 200 km southwest of state capital Kolkata. President Pranab Mukherjee belongs to this district.
 
She was initially slapped a fine of Rs. 50,000 for falling in love with a youth from a different community. The gang-rape was ordered after the family said they would not be able to pay the fine.
 
The girl and her lover were summoned to the salishi sabha on Monday and detained for almost a day.

"After we said we cannot pay the fine, Soren (head of the salishi sabha) ordered that everyone present was free to have me. Then the men, including Soren, took turns to rape me throughout the night," the victim told police officers and journalists who visited her at the Suri civil hospital on Wednesday.

The girl underwent medical test at the Suri civil hospital on Wednesday morning.

"I have lost count of how many men took turns to rape me. They were more than five. It could even be 10," the victim said.
 
"It's horrific. They (rapists) are all our neighbours and I call some of them as kaka (uncle) and some others as dada (elder brother) or bhai (brother)."
 
Her family lodged a complaint with the police on Wednesday afternoon following which the police conducted a raid on the village. They arrested five person, including the salishi sabha head Sunil Soren, who allegedly led the gang-rape.

A section of villagers had opposed the police raid, forcing the administration to rush in more personnel.

Read: Tribal leaders support court, say girl lied

Read: Mamata Banerjee should serve notice on kangaroo courts

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(With PTI and IANS inputs)


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