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Buddha tells House there was ‘rape’

Calcutta, March 13: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee finally broke his silence on the Dhantola and Ghoksadanga incidents today when he told the Assembly that women in both the incidents were “raped” repeatedly.

The chief minister’s statement came after the CPM-dominated state women’s commission upheld the claim that the women in two buses were “raped” by a gang of looters in Dhantola, Nadia, last month. The CPM, too, had not denied that in both incidents women were raped, but had contested the allegation that partymen were involved.

Answering questions by Debaprasad Sarkar of the SUCI, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay of the Trinamul Congress and Abdul Mannan of the Congress on the outrage in Nadia and Cooch Behar, Bhattacharjee said medical reports have confirmed that at least six women in Dhantola and a woman at Ghoksadanga were “raped several times”.

Expressing “full confidence” in the CID, the chief minister expressed hope that like the six persons now serving prison terms for their involvement in the Bantala incident, those involved in Dhantola and Ghoksadanga incidents would also be punished.

“I have also instructed the district magistrate of Nadia to give employment to the wife of the bus driver, Samar Ghosh, who was shot by the rapists on that February night in Dhantola,” Bhattacharjee told the House.

When Mannan and party colleague Shankar Sinha demanded a reply from the chief minister regarding the political identity of the people arrested in connection with the Dhantola incident, Bhattacharjee avoided a direct answer. He said 18 people had been arrested and four more would be arrested soon.

The Opposition parties created an uproar when the chief minister pointed out that Trinamul and Congress supporters were also among those arrested.

“The two names mentioned by Sougata Roy are from the CPM, but there are also your Trinamul and Congressmen involved,” the chief minister said.

He skirted comments made by Opposition MLAs on the remarks of state CPM secretary Anil Biswas that the “character” of the woman in Ghoksadanga was “dubious”. “Speaker Sir, am I bound to answer on any comment made by some body outside the House'” he asked.

Asked if a woman of “ill repute” could be raped, the chief minister said: “Character can never be a precondition in a case of rape.”

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