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Minor death traced to ashram

Cooch Behar, Jan. 13: Police today arrested the head of an ashram at Uchhalpukuri, 15 km from Mekhliganj, for the death of 15-year-old Dipali Roy on January 10.

The main accused in the case, Pankaj Biswas, who ran an illegal abortion clinic, had operated on the girl two days before she died, is however absconding. The girl was seven months pregnant.

Last night, the police arrested the ashram head Paramananda Brajabashi, 20, and his aunt Jashomati Brajabashi. The police said the self-styled sadhu had confessed to making the girl pregnant and added that he had taken her to the illegal clinic with the help of his aunt.

The ayah of the illegal clinic, located at Jamaldaha under Mekhliganj police station, and the driver of Jamaldaha health centre's ambulance, in which the girl's body was taken out of the clinic, were arrested yesterday.

Biswas worked as a doctor at Jamaldaha health centre.

Harakumar Roy, the elder brother of the dead girl, said the ashram had a branch at Bhotpatti in Mainaguri police station area of Jalpaiguri where they lived. The sadhu had befriended his family and took advantage of his position to indulge in a physical relationship with the girl and got her pregnant, he added.

'About a month ago, we found out about the relationship and Paramananda agreed to marry my sister. We did not imagine that this fraud would kill Dipali in this manner,' an angry Harakumar said.

In his complaint to the police, Harakumar has written that, on January 7, Paramananda and Jashomati arrived at their Bhotpatti house and claimed that the wedding would be conducted at the ashram in Uchhalpukuri.

'We allowed her to go with them fearing the scandal that might result, if the news became known,' he wrote in the complaint.

Officer-in-charge of the Mekhliganj police station P.K. De Sarkar said last night Paramananda and Jashomati were spotted by residents in Bhotpatti carrying Dipali's body on a bamboo-bier. Informed by the residents, the police seized the body and sent it to Mathabhanga for post-mortem .

Zilla parishad sabhadhipati Ananta Roy, who is also chairman of the district health committee, termed the incident as 'shocking'. 'I have instructed the district health administration to locate any other such illegal abortion clinic, shut them down and take appropriate action against those running them,' he said.

'The doctor is still absconding. We have sent a temporary replacement to the Jamaldaha health centre,' said chief medical officer of health, Sunil Kumar Sil.

Additional chief medical officer of health Sanatan Ghosh said the police were investigating the criminal charges against Biswas. 'I will conduct a departmental inquiry and if the doctor is found guilty strong action will be taken,' he said.

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