Basirhat, Feb. 12: A gang of 10 stopped three Sumos packed with families returning from a wedding reception 80 km from Calcutta last night and looted and allegedly molested the passengers.
The dacoits had blocked Bhangar-Haroa Road at Lauhati in Ghoshpara, North 24-Parganas, with logs.
Superintendent of North 24-Parganas police Basudeb Bag said relatives of a groom were returning from Bhangar in South 24-Parganas in a convoy of a bus and three Sumos. The miscreants allowed the bus to pass Ghoshpara around 1.30 am but intercepted the smaller vehicles.
The bus had left the smaller vehicles far behind. Police sources said the Sumos screeched to a halt one behind the other on the dark road lit by their headlights after the first driver spotted the logs.
Brandishing daggers, the dacoits converged on the vehicles. In language that the victims said was foul, they ordered all 33 passengers out on the road. “They looted ornaments and about Rs 6,000 and fled. I have asked the sub-divisional police officer to conduct an inquiry into the incident,” said the superintendent.
The police were tight-lipped about the molestation charge. But people from nearby villages said the dozen women among the victims complained of molestation and physical assault to the police.
Bibhas Mondal, a CPM member of the local Minakhan panchayat samiti, said: “We have received complaints from the women saying they were molested. They were too ashamed to mention molestation in their written complaint to the police.”
On an unknown road, in the dark, the men and women shouted for help but there was no one in the vicinity. Till dawn, 33 people remained huddled inside their vehicles fearing that they might be attacked again.
In the morning, people from the adjacent villages spotted them and informed the police.
An officer said the dacoits also hurled stones and fired at cars that went past them when they were fleeing the scene.
The incident rekindles memory of February last year when two buses returning from wedding receptions were waylaid at Nadia’s Dhantola. The men were forced to climb onto the roofs of the buses at gunpoint and several women were allegedly raped.
Five people have been arrested for last night’s incident. Raids are on at Bhangar, Haroa and Minakhan. The scene of the crime is a fringe area for all three police stations. After a round of investigation, the police suspect that the attack could be the fallout of a feud between two CPM factions in the area.