The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Torture and strip parades bridge north & south

Raiganj, Sept. 19: Omola Khatun, a housewife, was assaulted, stripped and paraded allegedly by her in-laws at Rudrakhand village in Uttar Dinajpur district on September 12.

The motive for the barbaric act, which came to light today, is believed to have been property.

“They were trying to drive me away from my husband’s home and usurp his share of the property,” the victim, now in hospital, said. Her husband was away in New Delhi when the incident took place.

Boren Roy, the panchayat pradhan of Gouripur, under which Rudrakhand village falls, accused the police of turning a blind eye to the incident. He said the woman was turned away when she went to the Raiganj police station to lodge a complaint. No one has been arrested so far.

The woman, brutally beaten up by six members of her husband’s family, was admitted to Raiganj Sadar Hospital three days after the incident. “Her condition is still critical. She bled profusely and had to be given blood,” hospital superintendent Pradip Bhattacharya said.

Recounting the torture and humiliation from her hospital bed, Omola said her in-laws had begun assaulting her shortly after she got married to Ajam Ali five years ago. Her husband intervened at times, but could do little to protect her.

“The beating increased when my husband went to Delhi looking for work about a year ago,” she said. Taking advantage of his absence, her in-laws assaulted her “almost regularly on some pretext or other”.

Omola and her daughter were forced to go hungry. “They would not give us anything to eat on some days. If I asked why, they would abuse and hit me.”

The matter came to a head on September 12. That day, she and her daughter were denied lunch. When the hungry child screamed for food, Khatun said she beat up her daughter in sheer helplessness. “I was angry with myself when I could not feed her,” she said, eyes welling up.

The child’s screams infuriated her in-laws, who turned on her. “All six of them started beating me with sticks and planks of wood. I pleaded with them to spare me but they would not listen,” she said. “I told them I just tried to stop my daughter from screaming, but they said I had hurled abuse at them.”

Omola fainted on the verandah, bleeding profusely, when the beating stopped. When she came to sense, she found herself stripped. “They took away everything, including my sari.” As she scrambled to her feet, she said her in-laws seized her by her hair and dragged her about.

“I could not bear it any more and tottered out of the house forgetting I had nothing on. But they would not let me go and chased me through the village streets,” Omola said.

Amir Ali, her brother, said Omola ran to escape the pursuers towards the adjoining Elonga village, where her parents lived. But she collapsed on the road.

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