The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Victim forgotten by all

Cooch Behar, March 8: The International Women’s Day means nothing to her.

Political parties and social activists sought her after she was gangraped by local CPM leaders on February 22, 2003, at the house of her in-laws in a village in Mathabhanga. But now she has been forgotten by everyone.

“My name is Runu Das and you can use my name,” she says. “I am taking full responsibility in saying that those who raised an outcry over my fate forgot me as soon as their political goals were achieved and that is why I am still living under the glare of CPM strongmen.”

After she was raped, Runu was driven out of her in-laws’ place in Chheramari. Since then, she and three children have been living with her own parents in the neighbouring village of Angarkata-Paradubi, about 30 km from Cooch Behar town. The police picket that had been posted there for her security was withdrawn in January this year.

“The six accused were sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment, but the victim has not received help from any quarter,” said Shiben Roy, a Trinamul Congress leader and Runu’s lawyer.

After the incident, members of the National Commission for Women and even Mamata Banerjee had come to meet Runu. The Trinamul Congress had made the rape a major issue in the ensuing panchayat polls and won six gram panchayats in the area.

“My ailing father cannot work any longer, so there is little to get by with. My children and I are doomed,” Runu said.

Cooch Behar district magistrate Rajesh Kumar Sinha said something would be done for Runu “very soon”.

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