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Mother’s wail in bastion of stoicism

A woman’s wail from a fourth-floor room shredded the silence in Shramik Bhavan, the seat of militant trade unionism in the heart of Calcutta.

The room — used to accommodate visiting comrades — is now the temporary address for the grieving parents of the 16-year-old girl who was raped twice and then allegedly set ablaze. She died on Tuesday.

Sources in the Citu office said the mother has been crying inconsolably through day and night.

“She is under tremendous trauma….. She can’t get over the loss of her child. She is also scared for her husband’s safety. She is constantly crying. She didn’t sleep last night,” said a Citu whole-timer, who lives in the same building off AJC Bose Road.

While it is true that the father of the victim is a Citu supporter and the incident has offered the CPM a chance to attack Mamata Banerjee, the decision to allow the couple to stay at the office — where discussions revolve around classless societies and strike and ceasework — is rare.

The wail is a rare sound in the Citu office, frequented by comrades who pride themselves on their stoicism in the sparse rooms of chairs minus cushions and liquor tea in plastic cups.

But some of the comrades admitted that the woman’s grief has affected them and made the mood sombre at the office from where Communist leaders like M.S. Chettiar, Muzaffar Ahmed and M.K. Pandhe inspire junior comrades not to lose heart and carry on the fight.

“Every time we hear her wail, we feel bad.… It is a constant reminder of the brutal end to a young girl’s life,” said a Citu leader.

As of now, the Citu leaders have planned to keep the family at the party office till they find a suitable accommodation for the couple, who were brought to the office straight from the Nimtala crematorium after the cremation on Wednesday evening.

“The family was feeling threatened as the police had allegedly warned he would not be allowed to ply his taxi in Calcutta…. We had to give them protection,” said a leader.

The comrades have arranged for warm clothes and blankets for the couple. “Since there has been a bereavement in the family, special food is being provided to them from the kitchen in our office,” said a Citu leader.

As the father of the victim has not been driving his taxi regularly since October 26, when his daughter was raped for the first time, the Citu leaders are also helping him financially.

“The father has regained some composure… He is talking to us and we are telling him to keep up the fight for justice. He has to be strong to ensure that the accused are punished. He will also have to run his family,” said a Citu leader.

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