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Beheading: state vows strict action

Behrampore, Aug. 1: The young woman whose husband was beheaded on the orders of a kangaroo court in Murshidabad today regretted having come to see her parents from Mumbai.

The court of elders at Lakshmanpur village had decided that her husband must die because he had married from another community.

“Why did I come to visit my parents at all? If I had not come, I would not have lost my husband. I knew my husband belonged to a different religion but I married him because I loved him,” wailed the 25-year-old widow, with her 10-month-old son in her arms.

A large force led by additional superintendent of police Debashis Bej went to the village this evening and picked up 26 villagers. They have been detained for interrogation. Police pickets have been posted in the village.

Bej said the police would continue to patrol the village tomorrow to defuse tension. “We are carrying out raids to arrest all the culprits.”

Three men had been arrested last night.

Home secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti said in Calcutta “strictest action” would be taken against the culprits. “We will take strictest action against those responsible for the heinous crime. Such an incident cannot be tolerated in 2008. Is it a sin to marry in a different community?”

The 30-year-old man was killed on July 14. His headless body was found on a jute field outside the village on July 17.

The woman, a maid in Mumbai, had met her husband three years ago. She had kept her husband’s religion a secret from her parents as the village was very orthodox.

The couple, who had visited Lakshmanpur once in end-2006, again came last month. “My husband wanted to return to Mumbai before July 14. I was supposed to stay back for two months before joining him. But he was forced to overstay because our son fell ill,” said the widow.

Watching a ritual with other villagers on July 14, her husband had muttered a cry that was a giveaway of his religion.

After lodging the police complaint, the young widow fears for her life. “We went and spoke to her. She told us she was scared after lodging the complaint and feared reprisals from the families of the accused,” said Arun Das, the inspector in charge of Behrampore police station.

The woman, who had gone to the police with her brother and mother, said: “The families of the accused have threatened revenge.”

District magistrate Subir Bhadra said it was a “shameful incident”. He has asked the police to ensure the widow’s security.

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