Five days after a 20-year-old college student was brutally raped and murdered at Kamduni in Barasat, Kolkata witnessed a flurry of protests from political and apolitical groups on Wednesday for the first time against the crime that has shaken the state.
The city that had erupted in protest against the Park Street and New Delhi rape incidents remained surprisingly indifferent to the macabre incident that took place in its doorstep. For the past few days protests and agitations were mostly localised and evoked little response in the city.
Second year BA student of Rajarhat Derozio College Shipra Ghosh (not her real name) was gang raped and brutally killed near Kamduni bus stand in Barasat on June 7, while she was returning home after appearing for an examination in Lake Town on the northern fringes of Kolkata.
Police have so far arrested eight people in connection with the incident, including main accused Ansar Ali.
On Wednesday, the SFI and DYFI (student and youth wing of the CPI-M) took out a rally from College Square to Moulali protesting the Barasat rape and murder. The Patanjali Yoga Samiti, comprising followers of Baba Ramdev, took out a candlelight rally from Deshbandhu Park to Shyambazar five-point crossing.
But the most strident protest perhaps went out from the victim’s family itself, when the brothers of the victim met the chief minister at her office and told her straightaway that the poor family was not seeking either cash compensation or a job. They wanted that the guilty should get the ultimate punishment.
The family members of Shipra Ghosh were on their way to meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee at Writers’ buildings, when hundreds of villagers stopped them and demanded Mamata herself come to the village to meet them. Villagers were also peeved that Ghosh’s family members were taken in a vehicle that had a Trinamool flag fluttering atop.
Villagers said they were not part of a political party, following which Ghosh’s parents refused to meet the chief minister. Police proceeded with only her two brothers in a red-beacon vehicle but covering the beacon with a black cloth. Scores of villagers followed them in two matadors till the state secretariat.
Till Wednesday, it was only some smaller outfits such as AIDSO that had protested the Barasat incident in the city. Rights group APDR sat on a dharna at the chief minister’s secretariat office on Monday, when the latter refused to meet them regarding a deputation.
Even senior Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy criticised the city’s ‘intelligentsia’ on Wednesday for being selective about their protests.
“I have not witnessed any protests by the so-called intelligentsia when rapes are reported from villages. Their protests are mainly city-centric. This speaks of their mindset,” Roy remarked.
Chief secretary Sanjoy Mitra said the state would appeal for capital punishment for the accused.
In another development, Calcutta high court asked the state to file an affidavit within seven days in reply to the PIL filed by lawyer Anindya Sundar Das demanding a special investigation team to probe the incident under the court’s monitoring and compensation of Rs 50 lakh to the victim’s family.
The state government tried to pacify protestors as law minister Chandrima Bhattacharya met the victim’s relatives on Tuesday evening and Barasat MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar visited the village on Wednesday morning. On Saturday, protestors gheraoed food minister Jyotipriya Mullick and stoned the vehicle of Basirhat MP Haji Nurul Islam.
Protestors had earlier set fire on a hooch den and vandalised three police vehicles. On Tuesday, activists of the right-wing Hindu Samhati clashed with police and ABVP activists staged a rally in Barasat on Wednesday.