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Woman stripped for power-post protest

Kalna (Burdwan), Feb. 15: Two youths allegedly connected to the CPM stripped and humiliated an elderly woman in a village in the area on Tuesday after tying her husband to an electric post for protesting against the planting of the pillar on their land.

The couple had opposed erection of posts on their land and secured the state electricity board’s assurance that only a 220-volt line, and not a 440 volt one, would be strung across their land.

Villagers of Indrapur are alleging a police cover-up in the incident of cruelty to women that comes around the same time as the molestation of women at a sterilisation camp in Durgapur on Thursday and the rape of women on board two buses by a criminal gang on February 5.

The couple’s son, Soumendra Nath, lodged a complaint on Tuesday evening at the Kalna police station that two CPM workers, Uttam Nath and Pradip Nath, stripped his mother and assaulted her after tying his father to a lamp post. The youths and a large number of men working for a contractor had arrived to install a lamp post on their land.

The two youths had first attacked Soumendra’s father, who, according to eyewitnesses, tried to resist the erection of the posts. “The woman rushed out of the house on hearing her husband’s cries and the two youths set upon her,” an eyewitness said.

The villagers alleged that though the police accepted the written complaint after realising the gravity of the situation, they later tried to hush up the issue, possibly after the local CPM leadership intervened.

“Sub-inspector S.N. Ghosal took my mother to the Kalna sub-divisional hospital for a check-up. The very next day, a letter was delivered to us from the police station asking us to go there and settle the issue. We were supposed to go today, but we refused. We want justice,” Soumendra said.

Burdwan district magistrate Manoj Agarwal said: “I have asked for a detailed report on what took place from the sub-divisional officer of Kalna and action will be taken after the details are known.”

The villagers are incensed. “As the two youths pulled off the woman’s clothes after tying up her husband, we, the villagers, could only watch helplessly as there was a large number of the contractor’s men standing around with picks and shovels,” said Indrapur resident, Debashis Chakraborty.

“The officers from the Kalna police station came to the village following the complaint and about 50 of us told the team in detail about the horrendous crime the two had committed. But nothing was done,” said Milan Ghosh, another villager.

The police are trying to brush aside the incident as minor. “The son has lodged a complaint with us but we feel that the matter is not as serious as it sounds. So we asked them to come and sort things out,” said the officer-in-charge of the Kalna police station.

CPM Kalna-I local committee secretary Biswanath Sarkar acknowledged the two youths were party workers but said the episode was being unnecessarily given a political colour. “I don’t know whether the woman was stripped and beaten up. Incidentally, the woman, too, belongs to the party. There was a minor scuffle between the two youths and the man, and this is being given a political colour,” Sarkar said.

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