Omrapata (West Midnapore), April 29: In a throwback to the loot-and-rape outrage in Nadia’s Dhantola, a group of young women here alleged that they were tortured by a gang of dacoits while returning from a wedding feast early on Saturday.
Though no formal complaint has been lodged with the two police stations close to the Pathardoba forest, about 6 km from Chandrakona Road town, a general diary saying that a dacoity took place was filed on Sunday at Goaltore police station.
However, unlike the Dhantola incident, there were no allegations of the involvement of CPM cadre in the attack.
In the Nadia incident, at least seven women, including a child, were raped when a gang stopped two buses carrying wedding guests on the night of February 6. Two CPM local leaders were arrested in connection with the incident in which the driver of one of the buses was shot dead when he allegedly recognised some of the attackers.
West Midnapore district magistrate M.V. Rao visited Omrapata and spoke to the alleged victims. “They told me five girls, all of them teenagers, were taken away by the dacoits in the forest and were subject to torture, but they did not specify what actually took place,” said Rao.
“The police have initiated a dacoity case,” he added.
In a sensational disclosure to newspersons this morning, the five girls recounted their ordeal without a flinch, even in front of television cameras.
“The dacoits told the men and the married women at gunpoint to leave with the truck we were travelling in and took five of us inside the roadside woods, where we were brutally raped for two hours,” said one of the alleged victims.
She added that four of them managed to find their way back to the road but the fifth girl was missing till villagers found her tied to a tree.
“The criminals targeted the unmarried girls and, as a result, we married ones were spared,” said Anju Ahir, the elder sister of one of the victims.
Anju’s uncle Haripada Ahir said about 50 men, women and children were returning from a wedding feast at Durlabhgunj near Chandrakona Road when the incident took place. “The dacoits had blocked the road with a tree trunk and were carrying arms and sharp weapons. They took away the ornaments the women were wearing and beat up Prahlad, one of our companions, very badly. They made the girls get off and forced us to move on,” recounted Haripada.
While the dacoits were looting the passengers on the truck, two more trucks and a bus carrying more wedding guests arrived at the spot. “They also looted the men on the truck and some of the passengers in the bus,” claimed Haripada.
The miscreants had flashlights with them and carried out the “operation” with precision.
The passengers on the first truck raised alarm on reaching Ghagra village, over a kilometre away. But they managed to locate four of the girls only after a two-hour search.
“We did not go to the police and file a complaint saying the girls were raped as it would be bad for their marriage prospects. But we informed the police about the dacoity and nothing has been done so far, even after we held a roadblock on Sunday,” said Haripada.
Shyamal Das, the officer-in-charge of Goaltore, said: “We do not know of any woman molested or raped, no complaint of this nature has been filed with us.”
But even before Rao went to the spot, senior officials like additional superintendent of police Anil Srinivas and additional district magistrate Nandadulal Bhakat had come here to conduct an inquiry.