In her suffering and death, the 23-year-old Delhi rape victim has reignited hope for the Kolkata Park Street rape victim who is fighting a lonely battle for justice, and survival.
“Her fight over the past two weeks has given me the will to fight on just when I was thinking of giving up,” the 37-year-old told HT from her Behala home.
“I read that she told her mother that she wanted to live. It was a great inspiration for me,” said the mother of two in a choked voice.
Often recognised as the face of intolerance of the Mamata Banerjee regime, the Park Street victim is still facing disparaging remarks from leaders of the ruling party. Just this Friday Trinamool Congress MP, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, labeled her a sex worker.
“I am fortunate enough to live on. At least, I have my daughters and can look forward to bringing them up. I can’t imagine the plight of the parents of the (Delhi) girl and have no words to console them,” she said.
On Saturday afternoon she prayed for the Delhi girl and hoped for stringent punishment for rape accused. She said it was time for legislators to explore options that were beyond the current sections of the Indian Penal Code. “For the Delhi culprits, anything more stringent than death penalty seems appropriate,” she added.
If the Park Street victim is on the verge of losing heart and spirit to fight on, she can’t be blamed. For she is fighting numerous odds single-handedly – an apathetic ruling party, constant jibes by its leaders, an indifferent police force, hostile neighbours and financial crisis.
“I was following her ordeal very closely since the fateful night of December 16. This morning my mind became numb and I forgot to do many of the household chores,” she said.
The woman is now scared that she can be harmed, as almost 11 months after the crime two accused still roam free. “The Delhi girl is now beyond all suffering. But with two minor daughters, I am still vulnerable,” she said.
The accused are wealthy and that makes her doubly apprehensive. Though police submitted the charge sheet in May, the charges are yet to be framed in court and hearing is yet to begin.
To make matters worse, she has no job and no money to pay her daughter’s school fee or rent. “I don’t have enough money to buy food, forget any gifts for Christmas or New Year,” the Anglo Indian woman told HT.
The Park Street rape victim shot to national headlines when Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said the February 5 incident had been concocted to malign her government. Later, when the Kolkata police speedily investigated the case, identified the accused and slapped charges, police chief Damayanti Sen was promptly shunted out.