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Rape raises questions on policing

Durgapur, Sept. 10: The rape last night of a woman in the heart of Durgapur has raised questions of policing in the town that got its own commissionerate a year ago.

The 30-year-old woman, the co-owner of a diagnostic centre in Asansol and wife of a bank official, was raped for nearly an hour in a deserted field that is 200m from the police outpost at City Centre, but no patrol vehicle was said to be seen anywhere near the spot at that time.

Some residents of Durgapur today also complained about the goings on in the field, where the alleged rape happened, after sunset.

A priest who serves at the Kali temple, near which the lady had gone to relieve herself, said he generally left the area by 9pm every day because the area generally became a den of anti-socials after that.

“I leave the temple after locking it up by 9pm as the place is almost taken over by local anti-socials after that. They have their drinking sessions and also bring sex workers who roam near the City Centre bus stand after dark. I had earlier told policemen at the outpost about the matter but they took no action,” said the priest, requesting anonymity.

Police sources said suspicion of the rape had fallen on a group led by Musha Singh, known to steal scrap iron and coal from Durgapur Projects Limited, which is near City Centre. Musha was arrested recently in a case of scrap iron theft but is out on bail now.

The scrap iron smugglers also give money to the police to run their business smoothly, local residents said.

A woman today said the bus stop near City Centre was not a good place for women to wait as men often pass lewd comments on them there.

“Only two days ago, I was waiting at the City Centre bus stand around 6.30pm and some men made lewd remarks. They thought me to be a call girl. It was very embarrassing for me. Thank God, my bus came soon,” said Sukla Chowdhury, 35, a homemaker.

“I have learnt from the media today that a woman of my age was raped last night near the City Centre bus stand. I am now scared as I too return home from work on foot through the area around 8pm regularly. I have now told my husband to take me from my office,” said Moon Moon Sarkar, a private company employee at City Centre.

Cardiac surgeon Satyajit Bose, who is the chairman of the Mission Hospital, said that when he moved to Durgapur from Calcutta, “it was a peaceful town but now I am worried the way the crime graph is rising”.

“Two days ago, a man came drunk to my hospital at night and threatened the doctors with a revolver, following an altercation. He overpowered a security guard and went to the second floor. I immediately called the police. I have hired doctors from across the country and they are now scared to work here,” he said.

Amitava Mukherjee, a professor who resides in Bidhannagar, said the law-and-order situation has worsened after the town got its separate police commissionerate. “We are getting news of crimes in our town almost everyday in the media. Last night’s rape incident was shocking to me,” he said.

The police claim that they have taken steps to curb crime. “We have noticed that the thieves are targeting the empty houses in City Centre so we have now appealed to the residents to inform the local police stations before leaving their houses vacant so that we can keep special vigil.”

Sunil Yadav, the additional deputy commissioner of police (east), said: “In the rape incident, we have got clues and names and will arrest the culprits soon. We have stepped up night patrolling in the area.”

Referring to the Durgapur rape incident, leader of the Opposition in Bengal Assembly, Surjya Kanta Mishra, said in Calcutta that the government had absolutely no concern for the respect of women.