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Opposition leaders slam Bengal CM Mamata after tribal woman’s gang rape

West Bengal ranked second with 32,513 cases of anti-women crime the year before last, accounting for 9.6% of such instances in India. This has spurred political detractors to allege that the Trinamool government isn’t doing enough to ensure women’s safety in the state.

kolkata Updated: Feb 20, 2018 17:56 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Kolkata/Berhampore
Tribal woman,Gang rape,South Dinajpur
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee dropped by the Malda Medical College and Hospital to check on the victim on Tuesday.(PTI File)

Opposition leaders in West Bengal have slammed the Mamata Banerjee administration over the brutal gang rape of a tribal woman in South Dinajpur district earlier this week.

The woman, who is fighting for her life at a state-run hospital after a couple of surgeries, was allegedly mutilated with a metal object after the gang rape. She was found by a villager under a bridge on the Ichamati river on February 18.

“The chief minister issues numerous statements every day, but she has no time to send a strong message against those committing crimes against women. The safety and security of women is clearly not her priority. In fact, goons are having a free run in her regime,” said BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha.

CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty alleged that the crime was a result of Banerjee indulging criminals in the state. “Gruesome incidents are on the rise. Women’s safety on the roads has greatly decreased. Why hasn’t she issued a statement? Where is her message?” he asked.

All India Congress Committee member Om Prakash Mishra also blamed the rise in crimes against women on “failure of governance”. “This perverse and brutal manifestation is directly in proportion to the sense of impunity, effective vigilance and failure of the political class, including the police and administration,” Mishra said, adding that the chief minister could have prevented the crime if she had played her part in safeguarding women.

Banerjee dropped by the Malda Medical College and Hospital (MMCH) to see the victim on Tuesday. “She instructed the authorities to provide the woman with the best care and treatment,” said a hospital official on the condition of anonymity.

Bengal ranked second (after Uttar Pradesh) with 32,513 cases of anti-women crime in 2016, accounting for 9.6% of such instances in India. Opposition leaders took the opportunity to allege that the administration was not paying women’s safety the attention it deserved despite being headed by a woman chief minister.

There have been several incidents of anti-women crimes since the change of regime in May 2011, including the Park Street rape case in 2012. The South Dinajpur gang rape is probably the most gruesome yet.

”The district administration tried to suppress the incident because the chief minister is supposed to visit South Dinajpur on February 21. They took more than 24 hours to register an FIR,” alleged CPI(M) district secretary Narayan Biswas.

The gang rape occurred on February 17, and the woman lay under the bridge for over 18 hours before she was found. ”Around 3.30 am on February 18, I was returning from work when I noticed the woman lying in an unconscious state. She stirred when I sprinkled water on her face. It was only then that I noticed that her intestines were jutting out from her private parts,” said Dhamu Soren, the villager who rescued her, in the police complaint.

“The woman told me that she was abducted and raped by Ram Prabesh Sharma, a resident of Dehaband village, and some other people. It seems that the accused mutilated the victim with some weapon after raping her,” the document further quoted Soren as saying.

“We have arrested two suspects on the basis of our investigation,” said South Dinajpur police superintendent Prasun Banerjee. Amit Kumar Dawn, MMCH medical superintendent-cum-vice principal, said the woman was responding well to treatment by a team of specialist doctors.

The woman, a resident of Dehaband, was returning from a fair organised near Itahar on the occasion of Shivratri when she was attacked.

First Published: Feb 20, 2018 17:55 IST