Durgapur, Sept. 10: A bank manager’s wife who got off her husband’s bike to relieve herself was dragged away and gang-raped by a group of youths, who pinned the husband down, in the heart of Durgapur after midnight, according to a complaint filed by the couple.
The alleged assault that went on for an hour has sent shock waves across Durgapur, which has clocked explosive growth in the past decade and has not seen — in the words of a resident — such an incident in 42 years. The scene of crime falls in a place known as City Centre — the equivalent of the landmark Esplanade in Calcutta — and is close to NH2 or the Durgapur Expressway (Calcutta-Delhi).
A preliminary medical test has confirmed injury marks on the 30-year-old lady’s private parts, a doctor said late tonight. Police said sexual assault could be confirmed only after a formal medical report was filed.
The account by the couple, who had married two months ago, drew an inhuman picture. The assailants allegedly flung away the pair of jeans the woman was wearing — the apparel was found hanging from a tree this morning — and she was given a sari in the police station.
A police post is located 200 metres away from the field where the alleged assault continued for an hour. No patrol vehicle appears to have passed the area, considered the most affluent belt in Durgapur, at that time.
The woman, a co-owner of a diagnostic centre 45km away in Asansol, was dropped near City Centre around 12.30am by a doctor who is a partner in the facility. The lady’s husband, the 58-year-old manager at the bank, was waiting for her on his bike. Together, they were supposed to go to their home in another part of Durgapur, about 7km from City Centre.
According to the complaint, after getting off the doctor’s car, the lady told her husband she wanted to relieve herself. She walked in the direction of a temple on the roadside when around 15 youths surrounded her and switched on a flashlight.
About a dozen of them dragged the woman to the field behind the temple and three or four youths held back her husband. One group repeatedly raped her while the others on the road slapped and punched her husband when he tried to resist, the complaint said.
An officer at Durgapur police station who spoke to the lady said: “She was shouting for help but the area was deserted and no one came.”
The husband eventually wriggled free and ran to an SBI ATM at the City Centre bus terminus, about 150m from the scene of crime, and sought the help of a security guard who called the police.
“I first approached two men sleeping under a shed at the bus terminus and asked for their help but they refused. Then I saw the ATM and rushed there,” the police quoted the husband as saying.
The youths fled when they saw the approaching police vehicle. Eight persons were questioned during the day but they were released in the evening.
“We have found injury marks on the victim’s hand. She told us that she was raped but we need the medical report to confirm it,” said Sunil Yadav, additional deputy commissioner of police (east).
“I have been living in Durgapur for the past 42 years but have never heard of such an incident at City Centre,” said Debasish Chowdhury, a Durgapur Steel Plant employee and a Congress leader.
The police said the lady sometimes stayed in Asansol, where the diagnostic centre, which reopened recently, is situated. The husband lives in Durgapur with his daughter from an earlier marriage.
Police sources said the couple had quarrelled on the phone last evening and again when they met at night a few kilometres away from City Centre. From there, the lady and the doctor travelled in the car behind the husband’s motorbike. She got off the car at City Centre to join her husband.
The scene of crime is known to be frequented by pilferers of coal and scrap iron, both of which drive the underworld in Durgapur. Residents complained that they often found youths drinking and taking drugs in the field.