The ripples of the Barasat protest reached the doorstep of chief minister Mamata Banerjee literally, as representatives of a rights’ body sat on a dharna at her secretariat office in Writers’ Buildings on Monday. At Ground Zero, protests erupted for the fourth day in a row and a PIL was filed in Calcutta High Court, urging the court’s intervention in restoration of rule of law in Barasat.
A five-member team of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), led by social activist Anuradha Talwar, arrived at Writers’ at around 2.30 pm to submit a memorandum on the Barasat rape and murder.
After waiting for around two hours, the activists were told to submit the memorandum to the chief minister’s private secretary, as she would not be able to meet them.
The APDR activists then sat on a dharna at the secretariat office and also attempted to stick posters on the walls. The memorandum was finally submitted to the officer-in-charge of Writers’ buildings.
“The chief minister has the time to shed tears for Tapasi Malik (the Singur anti-land acquisition activist who was raped and murdered), but she does not have time for the Barasat victim,” Talwar said.
At Barasat, protestors blocked the Kamdhoni crossing, demanding safety for women and severe punishment for those involved in the brutal rape and murder of the 20-year-old college student on June 7.
Placards in hand, men and women of all age groups rallied to press for safety. The protestors called for immediate dismantling of all hooch dens, which have become meeting places for local toughs and rogue elements. “Barasat has become a hub of criminals. We are worried about the safety of our women. We don’t know if our daughters and sisters will return home safe from schools or colleges. Who’s to say our mothers and wives won’t run into trouble on their way home from work,” said a protestor.
“Police should intensify patrolling to boost confidence among residents, especially women. They should also promise locals that there wouldn’t be any more of such incidents in the future. The administration should crack down on all illegal hooch dens in the area as these have become hubs of criminal activities,” said another protestor.
Lawyer Anindya Sundar Das filed a PIL at the high court, urging the court to monitor the probe into the rape and murder and demanding that the state government pay Rs 50 lakh as compensation to the victim’s family. Das presented statistics before the court on the increasing crime graph in Barasat since 2009.