13 arrested for gang-raping woman sent to 14-day jail custody in West Bengal

  • HT correspondent, Hindustan Times, Suri
  • Updated: Jan 24, 2014 11:12 IST

All the 13 accused in the gang-rape of a tribal girl in Labhpur, Birbhum district of Bengal were sent to jail custody for 14 days by the additional chief judicial magistrate on Thursday.

According to initial reports, the police did not appeal to the court to take the accused in their custody.

Strangely, January 23 being a Bengal government holiday, no lawyer appeared for the police. The accused were, however, represented by a lawyer.

The 20-year old girl was raped on Tuesday following the decision of a salishi sabha, a sort of kangaroo court to do so.

The girl was initially slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 for having an affair 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.

"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 told police officers and a section of the journalists who visited her at Suri sadar hospital on Wednesday.

The girl and her lover was summoned to the salishi sabha on Monday and detained for almost a day.

"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)," the girl said.

The girl underwent medical test and Suri sadar hospital on Wednesday morning and is admitted there.

Her family lodged a police complaint on Wednesday afternoon, after which the police raided the village and arrested five person, including Sunil Soren, head of the salishi sabha, who also led the gang-rape.

"After we said we cannot pay the fine, Soren ordered that everyone present was free to have me. Then the men, including Soren, took turns to rape me throughout the night," the victim said.

The incident happened at Subalpur village within Labhpur police station area limits in Birbhum district, about 200 kilometers southwest of Kolkata. Incidentally, President Pranab Mukherjee hails from this district.

The police team that went to Subalpur in search of the culprits faced obstructions from a section of the villagers and a big contingent of forces was then sent from the district headquarters of Suri to rescue the raiding team.

The tribal girl’s plight put the Mamata Banerjee government under the spotlight yet again, barely three days after a fitness centre employee was gang-raped in a moving vehicle in the heart of Kolkata.

The fitness centre employee was targeted even as the state grappled with the shocking Madhyamgram rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl towards the end of 2013. The minor was gang-raped twice, her family hounded out of her home and then she was set ablaze at their new residence.

The ruling Trinamool Congress has been battling a series of sex crimes against women over the past two years. West Bengal topped states in crimes against women in 2011 and 2012, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau.





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Vote here: Do you think Mamata government is doing enough to prevent crimes against women in West Bengal?

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