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‘Absconder’ molest accused roam free

Burdwan, Dec. 16: A woman in Burdwan’s Galsi has alleged that two Trinamul workers who molested her and attempted rape were roaming free five months after the attack, though police have labelled them “absconders”.

A Burdwan court on November 30 issued an order of arrest against them. The police declared the two absconders a day later. Villagers in Galsi, too, said Sharafat Hossain Mallik and Noor Mohammad were roaming free.

“I see them every day. I don’t think the police are unaware of this,” a farmer said.

Agriculture minister Malay Ghatak, who the woman had approached last month “after losing all hope of help” from the police, said: “I have got the complaint about the molestation and attempted rape. This is shameful. Trinamul workers have been accused. I have asked the superintendent of police to book the culprits and not consider any political colour as a restraint.”

Asked why the police were “dragging their feet”, the officer in charge of Galsi police station, Debabrata Mukhejee, said: “I won’t speak a word. Please ask the superintendent of police.”

Superintendent of police S.M.H. Meerza said he had instructed Galsi police to comply with the court order but they had told him that the accused were absconding.

“Perforce, I appealed to the court a few days ago to issue an order of attachment of property of these two persons if they do not surrender at the earliest. I am yet to get the court’s instructions on this,’’ Meerza said.

The 24-year-old unmarried woman, who comes every year for around five months from Sarmundi in Jharkhand to work as a farm labourer in Burdwan, stayed along with two other women in the house of the farmer who employed her.

The police said she had come with 15 other women in July this year and had been earning Rs 130 a day.

According to the complaint lodged by the tribal woman, four youths had on July 28 knocked on her door when her employer and his family were away.

“The three of us were woken up by a knock on the door. We thought our employer had returned and opened the door. Four youths barged in. Two of them grabbed me and started stripping me. One of my roommates then picked up a sickle from a corner and rushed towards them. The youths fled,” the woman said.

Asked how she could recognise those who attempted to rape her in the dimly-lit room, the woman said: “One was Sharafat Hossain Mallik and the other Noor Mohammad. They are Trinamul workers and we have been seeing them almost every day. But we couldn’t identify the two who stayed guard near the door. There was not enough light. I still work in the fields. I don’t know when the two would be arrested’’.

On July 29, the woman was accompanied by the employer’s nephew to Galsi police station, where she lodged the complaint.

Local Trinamul leaders said the duo should be dealt with firmly. “I am not sure if they are our men. The party leadership should not encourage such people. We want the higher-ups to firmly deal with such incidents,” a Trinamul district committee member said.