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Tribals back village head

Jan. 28: A state-level leader of the Bharat Jakat Majhi Maroa, an all-India welfare organisation for tribals, today defended the headman of Subalpur saying he had been “framed” in the gang rape case.

The Birbhum chapter of the organisation held talks today with residents of tribal villages of Labhpur and discussed plans for a meeting of village heads (morols) on Sunday.

One of its leaders, Opel Mandi, said some local Trinamul leaders had also attended the salishi sabha where Balai Maddi had allegedly ordered the gang rape. “Balai Maddi has been framed. There were some local Trinamul workers, including gram panchayat member Ajoy Mondal, at the shalishi sabha. But mostly tribals were arrested. We believe that there has been a conspiracy,” Mandi said.

The Trinamul panchayat member had on January 24 said that he had gone to the salishi sabha to get the mason, with whom the girl was said to have an affair, released. “I did not participate in the salishi meeting,” he had said.

Today, residents of around 20 villages discussed the need to hold a meeting to “protect” the institution of morols.

The Birbhum administration, which is building two houses for the girl and her mother in another village, will keep a watch on the situation before the two start living there.

The minister of state (independent charge) for women and child welfare, Sashi Panja, today said: “We decided to build the two houses after the girl said she wanted to live there. But we realise that she and her mother could face trouble. The government will evaluate the situation first.”