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Protest price: rape threat

Calcutta, June 15: A gang beat up a man and threatened to rape his wife and daughter in Basirhat for daring to complain to police against them for drinking in the open opposite their home.

Gobinda Palit, 53, was last night punched in front of policemen, who hurriedly bundled the tailor into their vehicle to save him from the attackers who included some of his neighbours.

“Some of the assailants came back this morning and again harassed my father and threatened to rape my mother and elder sister,” Gobinda’s son Pritam, an undergraduate physics student at Presidency University, said this evening.

“Yet the police have not arrested anyone till now,” added the young man, who lives in a Calcutta hostel and heard about the incident from his family.

The Palits alleged that the police had advised them to “settle the matter amicably”.

Gobinda had heeded the advice last night and returned from Basirhat police station without filing a complaint. That, the family thought, would be the end of the matter.

They were surprised this morning when, around 10, some members of the local market committee — who included several of the previous night’s attackers — turned up at their home intent on picking a fight. “They alleged that we had broken the furniture at the shop of one of the attackers. When my wife and I denied this, they began abusing us,” Gobinda said.

The visitors told the Palits they must accept such “minor matters” as drinking in the open. “They said that if my mother ‘crossed her limits’, they would teach her a lesson, and threatened rape,” Pritam said.

The incident comes amid an uproar in the state against a spate of sexual assaults and murders of young women and schoolgirls, at least one of which was committed by drunken men. A college student was allegedly raped and murdered last week by a gang of eight drunkards at Kamduni in Barasat, around 40km from Basirhat.

After this morning’s threats, Gobinda, wife Rekha, 46, and daughter Priyanka, 24, met the Basirhat sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) and lodged a written complaint. Priyanka, a second-year MSc student at Jadavpur University, also teaches at a school in Sonarpur.

“The two sides have lodged complaints against each other. We are probing the case,” SDPO Abhijit Banerjee said.

Some local people said the trouble had its roots in a police complaint by Rekha six months ago against people drinking in an under-construction market building near their home. The police had then sealed a gate leading to the structure’s second floor, forcing the habitual drinkers to shift.

“Some neighbours had created trouble then, too, but the chairman of a local club had sorted matters out. Our family has been a target for some of our neighbours since then,” Gobinda said.

About a week ago, the Palits realised that some men had resumed drinking in that building. “Yesterday, they were drinking on the road opposite my father’s tailoring shop around 7.30pm. My mother protested and called the police,” Pritam said.

Rekha identified the drinkers to the cops but they didn’t act, Pritam said. “Within minutes, a mob of 40 men attacked our home. They threw stones and threatened rape.”


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