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Kin of Bengal gang-rape victim meet Governor, seeks shield from police

Calcutta, Jan 1 (PTI): The family of a 16-year-old gangrape victim met West Bengal’s governor MK Narayanan on Wednesday seeking protection, alleging that some police officers had told them to go back to their home state Bihar, and threatened the taxi-driver father.

Accompanied by some Left leaders, the parents of the victim, who died on Tuesday after battling burn injuries in a suspected suicide bid, sought the death penalty for the accused.

“We want that those who have gang-raped my daughter be given death penalty. We have also requested the Governor to see that our family members are provided security as we fear for our lives,” the father of the victim said after meeting the Governor.

“Police officers have threatened me and asked me to leave the state and return to Bihar with the body. The police officers and some local toughs also threatened that if I did not, they would stop me from driving my taxi,” said the father.

“I have told the Governor about the police officials who threatened me and the Governor has assured that the matter will be looked into,” he said.

Protests rocked several parts of Calcutta since Tuesday, after the girl died of burn injuries in a city hospital.

She is suspected to have set herself on fire on December 23 when the miscreants tracked down the family to their new residence. She had earlier been gang-raped twice-—the second time while she was coming back after filing a police complaint.

The girl’s father, who is close to the CITU, the CPI(M)’s trade union wing, said the city police had forcibly taken away the girl’s body on Tuesday night to cremate it.

The girl's father said the family and CITU leaders had decided to keep the body in a city mortuary and take it out on Wednesday in a condolence rally.

But the police took away the body while it was being taken to the mortuary.

Rabin Deb, the CPM’s state secretariat member, said “the police took away the body forcefully and tried to cremate it at Nimtala (crematorium), but could not do so as the death certificate was with the girl's father. After the news spread, we too rushed to the crematorium and protested forcing the police to retreat.”

“The police gave the excuse that the condolence rally with the body cannot be allowed as there is dearth of policemen on duty following the New Year’s celebrations,” he claimed.

Denying the allegations, Rajeev Mishra, Joint Commissioner of Police, headquarters, said, “It is a totally false allegation. Whatever was done was done in consultation with Bidhannagar police, under whose jurisdiction the girl's home is. We did not forcefully take away the body.”

But Arnab Ghosh, who heads the detective department of Bidhannagar Police, said “The incident happened under the jurisdiction of Kolkata police. So we can't comment on it.”

The body is currently in the custody of the family and CITU.

The girl's family has also alleged negligence by R G Kar Medical College Hospital, a government hospital where she died.

The ruling Trinamul Congress has accused the Left Front of launching a 'false propaganda' against the state government.

“The CPI(M) is alienated from the people and they are desperately trying to launch a wrong propaganda against the government over this (gang-rape) issue. But the people will not accept this,” TMC General Secretary Mukul Roy told PTI.

He said the girl's death was a sad incident and the administration did whatever was necessary to bring the culprits to book.

“The accused are in jail and a charge sheet has been filed against them,” Roy said.

Biman Bose, chairman of the Left Front, wondered, ”Under whose instructions, the police has been so overactive. We want the guilty to be punished. We will organise protest- rallies and programmes throughout the state.”