The room in the house in the airport area that the victim’s family took on rent after being forced to move out of Madhyamgram. The door, neighbours said, bears testimony to an attempt by the landlord’s son Tapan Sil to break into the room while the family was inside. Picture by Sanjoy Ghosh
The girl whose lifeless body became the object of a police-politics tug-of-war had been failed by the administration at various stages in her life and after.
“If you work well, you will be pulled from behind and conspiracy will be hatched to stop you…. Those who did not work in past 35 years, they will do this,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee told a programme in Nabanna on Thursday.
But a look at the way police personnel across ranks and jurisdictions have handled the case, suggest they have not exactly worked well.
Metro tries to list where the police failed and what they could have done to ensure a better life for the teenager.
Madhyamgram police failed to ensure the basic right of a raped woman: security.
“It is her right to be protected as a witness as she is always vulnerable to another attack by the offenders in their bid to eliminate evidence,” said a senior lawyer.
The police did nothing. The girl was abducted while returning home with her father after lodging the police complaint and raped again.
Madhyamgram police refused to initially accept that the girl was raped a second time on October 27. They started an abduction case but cast aspersions on her statement and suggested that they had evidence to prove she had herself gone to the railway station (where she had been dumped by the rapists).
“If the police were so confident that she went to the station on her own, why did they start an abduction case?” said a senior officer not attached with the probe.
The police had started an abduction case after the second rape. But North 24-Parganas police chief Tanmay Roy Choudhury had told a news conference: “She was abducted while returning home from the police station. But the girl has not complained of being raped twice.”
Hours later, the girl told Metro: “I was raped twice. I went to the police station again…. and narrated my plight. I told them how I was abducted in front of my father and raped…. If police do not mention it in the FIR written in English what can I do?”
Asked why the cops did not escort the girl and her parents when they were returning home, Choudhury said: “We did not imagine that the accused would dare to abduct her after she lodged a complaint with the police.”
Police no security
After the second complaint, the first arrests were made and a picket — comprising two armed personnel — was posted in front of the girl’s house. But it was not enough to protect the girl and her family from friends and relatives of the accused, who kept intimidating them to withdraw the complaint.
The futility of the police posting became apparent when the family were forced to flee the area.
Take it easy
After the family fled Madhyamgram, the police there failed to react and offer suitable protection to the 16-year-old girl.
Senior officers said on Thursday the local police should have alerted their Dum Dum counterparts about the shift because the security of a rape victim was in question.
The Bidhannagar commissionerate has claimed that in the absence of a complaint by the girl’s family, they were unaware that the victim and her family were under threat to withdraw the rape charge.
One of the two sons of the landlady at the girl’s new home and his friend, also an associate of the prime accused in the gang rape case, had made life difficult for the family. But the victim’s parents dared not go to the police again.
After the girl had died, a senior officer of the commissionerate told Metro the police suspected that the other son of the landlady had influenced the initial medical report that suggests the wounds were self-inflicted.
“We suspect Tapan Sil had furnished wrong information to the doctor,” Santosh Nimbalkar, deputy commissioner, Bidhannagar commissionerate said on Wednesday. Why then has Tapan not been arrested yet?
The officer probing the death was removed from the charge on Thursday and the case was handed to a senior officer. Sahidulla Sana, the sub-inspector of Airport police station, was asked to hand over all the evidence that he has collected to Dilip Hazra, an officer of inspector rank.
“The death of the rape victim has become a high-profile case. We have decided to engage an officer of inspector rank to investigate the case,” said a senior officer.
Sources at the police station said Sana was removed as there were allegations that he had leaked the contents of the girl’s statement that she had given five days before she died.