The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Three victims were raped: Panel

Goaltore (West Midnapore), May 10: Three victims of the Goaltore incident were raped and two were molested — this is what the four-member team of the National Commission for Women, led by Nafisa Hossain, concluded today after a visit to Omrapota village.

A vehicle carrying marriage revellers was intercepted by a gang of looters on the night of April 26 and five girls were singled out, dragged to an adjoining forest and allegedly tortured.

The members came to the conclusion after speaking to two victims and their relatives yesterday and today. “Their body language and the way their mothers asked us to suppress the facts of the incident also made us draw this conclusion,” Hossain said.

The panel members also visited Midnapore Sadar Hospital today and spoke to two doctors who had attended on the victims.

The panel has directed the district administration to give each victim a pair of clothes and a compensation of Rs 1,000.

Hossain added that the minor girls were sent for medical examination three days after they were allegedly molested. This is too late for a medical examination and the exact nature of violence cannot be determined due to the delay, Hossain said.

No female medical officer was sent to interrogate the minor girls. An ordinary police case was registered perhaps because the incident was treated as an ordinary crime, she said.

The members also found the role of the superintendent of police in the district as “odd”, since he said he had come to know of the incident two days later.

“The superintendent of police said he was in Jharkhand when the incident took place, and had heard about it two days later. Is Jharkhand out of the country'” Hossain asked. The team members felt that the district administration was not happy about their visit. “One of them accompanying us said yesterday that we should not have chosen a public holiday for our visit. This proves how serious they are about work,” she said. Suspension of a few police officials and departmental action against some others is not enough, she felt.

The police took the incident lightly at first and had even shirked responsibility in taking up the matter. The national women’s commission members also went to Chandrokona and met the officer-in-charge of the police station. In addition, they met the district magistrate, MV Rao, who even admitted of having heard the incident two days after it took place.

The commission members were aggrieved at such repeated incidents of violence on women in the state and the callousness of police officials in each of these incidents, but maintained that incidents of violence against women were rising all over the country. The commission even raised their doubts on whether those arrested were the real culprits.

While no woman in the village spoke to commission members yesterday, some men however, spoke to them on Saturday, albeit with palpable fear on their faces. “These men told us they would not like to discuss anything because the girls had to be married,” Hossain said.

The commission will submit its report to its chairperson, Purnima Advani, as well as to the state government authorities. However, they were doubtful if this will face enough attention in view of the panchayat elections in the state.

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