An Anglo-Indian woman who was gang-raped in Kolkata’s posh Park Street area in
2012 and hit the headlines after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee dubbed the case a conspiracy to malign her government died of multiple organ failure on Friday.
Apart from hostile members of the ruling Trinamool Congress, the victim braved social ostracism but fought back, revealing her identity and turning into a social activist, spreading awareness on crimes against women.
The 40-year-old was gang-raped by five men in a moving car that she had boarded after befriending a group of strangers at a prominent night club, a case that triggered nationwide outrage and turned the spotlight on sexual violence against women in the country. Three years after the crime, two of the suspects are still on the run.
The case grabbed headlines after chief minister Mamata Banerjee said the hue and cry was an attempt to discredit her government and the incident was cooked up. Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, a Trinamool Congress MP, also said the incident was a case of a deal gone awry between a woman of “questionable character” and her prospective clients.
The police, too, dismissed her complaint when she went to file a case a day after the crime but confirmed the gang rape later, naming five suspects on charges with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The case is now being heard in-camera with three of the five accused -- Nishad Khan, Sumit Bajaj and Nasir Khan -- in jail. Two other - Ali and Nasir's brother Kadir - are still absconding with Kadir, the prime accused, believed to be in Bangladesh. In January, a Calcutta high court bench said the trial should be concluded "preferably by three months".
The woman was admitted to the School of Tropical Medicine recently and was being treated at the critical care unit. Hospital sources said she was suffering from Meningoencephalitis and passed away early Friday after her condition turned critical. She was admitted to several nursing homes earlier.
She lived on the southern suburbs of the city with her two school-going daughters and would frequently say her life became miserable after the rape. The 40-year-old said she lost her job after the incident, and avoiding curious glare and comments from many made her condition unbearable. Last year, the woman said she had been thrown out of a south Kolkata restaurant because they didn’t want a rape victim on their premises.