The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Policemen under probe after bus loot and rape

Midnapore, May 2: Despite putting under scanner six officers for “dereliction of duty” after Saturday’s alleged loot-and-rape incident at Goaltore in West Midnapore, police here are finding it tough to identify the perpetrators of the outrage.

“The rape victims of that night are apparently in no position to describe the attackers and, as a result, our job of booking the guilty has become very difficult. We are interrogating the people we have arrested since last Tuesday and we are trying to get leads that will enable us to get to the actual culprits,” said West Midnapore superintendent of police K.C. Meena.

Eight men have so far been arrested in connection with the alleged rape of five girls of Omrapota village in the Goaltore police station area. The girls were among a group of about 50 people returning home in a truck from a wedding feast.

The criminals stopped the vehicle, looted the passengers and singled out the five teenagers to drag them to a wood, where they were allegedly raped. Police sources said the arrested men were known criminals.

Meena said senior officers are trying to get charges framed against the six policemen. One of them was suspended on Wednesday. The inquiry on their conduct is being headed by additional superintendent of police Anil Srinivas.

The officer-in-charge of the Chandrakona investigation centre, Rajen Moitra, was suspended while the officers-in-charge of Goaltore and Garbeta police stations, Shyamal Das and Mahakash Chowdhury, district intelligence branch officer Shahjahan Molla and circle inspector S.N. Dutta are facing departmental inquiry.

Meena, who was in Jharkhand during the incident, had said on his return on Wednesday that these officers had not discharged their duties properly and kept senior officers in the dark about the incident.

Though no formal complaint was lodged with the two police stations close to the forest, a general diary saying a dacoity took place was filed on Sunday at Goaltore police station. The plea of confusion about the jurisdiction of the two police stations and the investigation centre over the crime site delaying a probe has invited sharp criticism.

Last Saturday, a jeep from the Chandrakona outpost stumbled on the victims but went on its way even after hearing about their ordeal. “Only after Srinivas submits a thorough report on each of the officer’s roles in the incident, we will begin proceedings against them, but this will take a few more days,” said Meena.

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