The arrested youths being taken to court from the Durgapur police station on Tuesday. Picture by Arup Sarkar
Durgapur, Sept. 11: Police today reconstructed a crime Durgapur has never heard before: a group of at least 10 young workers caught a woman in the headlight of their bike, summoned colleagues over phone, pulled over, overpowered her husband and took turns at raping her for an hour.
Ten contract labourers of a printing press at City Centre in Durgapur were arrested today in connection with the rape of the bank official’s wife on Sunday night.
“We arrested 10 youths, all aged between 19 and 25 years, who are contract workers with Darpan Publications located at City Centre early today following a tip-off. They were returning home from work at the printing press and spotted the woman relieving herself near a field and committed the crime. Five of them raped the woman while the others held back her husband. We are looking for six to seven other youths who also work at the press and may be involved,” said Ajay Nand, the commissioner of police at Asansol-Durgapur commissionerate.
The woman’s medical report is expected to come out tomorrow.
The suspects were produced at the Durgapur additional chief judicial magistrate’s court, which sent them to judicial custody for a fortnight.
No lawyer wants to appear on behalf of the youths. “We had appealed to our colleagues not to appear on behalf of the rape accused and everybody accepted it,” said Tushar Gupta, the leader of the Trinamul law cell in the Durgapur court.
Today’s is the highest number of arrests at a time in a rape case in recent years. In the Park Street rape case of February 5 this year, three of the five accused persons were arrested and two are absconding.
In the case of rape in Burdwan’s Katwa on February 25, all seven accused have been arrested.
Durgapur police said three of the youths, who said they were returning home on a bike, first spotted the woman.
“Rajesh Kora, who was riding the two-wheeler, saw her in the glare of the bike’s headlight. He immediately made phone calls to colleagues who were on their way home at Piala locality. The trio caught the woman, pinned her to the ground and flung away the pair of jeans she was wearing when the others arrived at the spot,” said a police officer.
The woman, the co-owner of a diagnostic centre in Asansol in the same district, was on her way home in Durgapur on Sunday night with her husband with whom she had been having a quarrel since Saturday morning.
The police said after the woman got off her business partner’s car near the Piala Kali temple around 1am, the husband and wife quarrelled for 45 minutes before she went to relieve herself.
“Before coming to Piala, the couple met near the Durgapur Steel Plant main gate in Waria, about 8km from City Centre, around 12.30am and quarrelled. It is not clear why they again stopped at Piala and quarrelled,” Nand said.
The diagnostic centre the lady ran had been shut for six months because of the lack of technicians and some differences with the doctor.
The police said the quarrel started after her husband, a bank official in Hooghly, did not attend the re-opening of the diagnostic centre as he did not get leave from office.
The woman returned to her rented flat in Asansol last night after a medical examination. She went to the diagnostic centre today and stayed there for an hour before leaving for Durgapur.
The police said the woman would have to identify the alleged rapists. “We will call the victim and her husband to identify the culprits in a TI parade,” Nand said.
The Trinamul Youth Congress took out a motorcycle rally in Durgapur today and alleged that the rape was the handiwork of CPM “harmads”. They also accused the CPM of hiding the youths in a Ganashakti office, which is in the same building as the press.
State law minister Malay Ghatak said at Writers’ Buildings today that nine of the arrested were employees of the CPM’s mouthpiece.
On Monday night, when The Telegraph had asked Ghatak about the incident, he had said he was unaware of it. When the same question was put to him this afternoon, he said: “Durgapur to hoye gelo… (The Durgapur case is done with). All nine are Ganashakti employees.”
When it was pointed out that other newspapers were also printed from the same place, Ghatak responded: “But these nine are Ganashakti employees.”
Ganashakti in a statement today denied that those arrested were its employees. “Those who were arrested are contract workers of Darpan Publications, a private organisation. They are not employees of Ganashakti nor have any direct link with the paper…. Apart from Ganashakti, the press also prints some other newspapers,” the statement said. “We condemn Trinamul’s false propaganda against Ganashakti.”
At Writers’ Buildings, state director-general of police Naparajit Mukherjee said: “Ten contract labourers were arrested from the printing press office of Darpan… where Ganashakti and some small newspapers are printed…. The contract labourers at Darpan are involved in this incident,” Mukherjee said.