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‘Rapist’ condemns rape

Burdwan, Dec. 23: A lady collecting sal leaves was today allegedly raped near a picnic spot in Burdwan at a time the country is in turmoil over the gang rape of a Delhi girl, an incident the Bengal accused referred to.

Hirak Bishnu, 28, a resident of Ausgram, told police when asked during interrogation about the Delhi rape that “such things should not happen”.

Bishnu allegedly dragged the 40-year-old woman into a thicket and raped her during a picnic with three youths in a village called Jungle Mahal inside a forest near Ausgram.

The police said Bishnu had confessed to the crime.

Burdwan police chief S.M.H. Meerza said: “When Bishnu was asked how he dared to commit such a crime despite knowing about the Delhi gang rape and the country-wide protests, he said he was under the influence of alcohol.”

Meerza added: “Bishnu is unlettered. But he has seen the Delhi developments on TV. He told us he would never have committed such a crime had he not been drunk.”

Asked what Bishnu had said about the gang rape, Meerza said: “He said such things should not have happened.”

Bishnu had gone for the picnic with Chiranjit Sikdar, Tanti Ghosh and Raju Singh. The trio were cooking lunch when Bishnu noticed the woman collecting leaves.

“He dragged her into a thicket and raped her. Alerted by her cries for help, her 15-year-old daughter and some neighbours rushed out of their homes and caught Bishnu and beat him up. They handed him over to us,” an officer said.

The three others fled. They are absconding, the police said.

A relative of the lady said Bishnu had offered the victim Rs 100 to keep quiet.

Meerza said the police had interrogated the victim and started a rape case against the accused. The lady will be sent to Burdwan Medical College Hospital tomorrow for a medical test.

The district police chief said tonight that plainclothesmen would be deployed in Jungle Mahal village to keep watch on those coming for picnic there during Christmas and New Year.

“A lot of people from Calcutta, Howrah, Birbhum and Hooghly visit the village, deep inside a forest, during this time every year,” Meerza said.

An elderly resident of the village said on condition of anonymity that women, particularly the young ones, were “teased regularly by picnickers”.

“The police never take steps against them,” she said.