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Two ‘raped’ after political clash

Howrah, Feb. 5: A 26-year-old woman and her aunt-in-law were allegedly gang-raped last night in a Howrah village that their husbands fled along with other CPM supporters after a clash with the Trinamul Congress in January.

The mother-in-law of the younger woman named eight Trinamul workers in the FIR. The party denied involvement in the alleged atrocity.

Before barging into the house of the women, the assailants allegedly disconnected power supply to the area by switching off the local transformer.

According to the FIR, around a dozen youths banged on the door of the house at 10pm and threatened to break it.

“As soon as they opened the door, the assailants barged in. They gang-raped the young lady and her (47-year-old) aunt-in-law. The younger woman’s mother-in-law sneaked out after about half an hour and ran to a police outpost in the neighbourhood. Three constables rushed to the house within 10 minutes but by then, the youths had fled,” a relative said.

“According to the FIR, the two women who were gang-raped recognised eight of the assailants as they were not wearing masks. They have been named in the FIR and are known Trinamul workers in the locality,” the relative said.

Seven of the eight FIR-named accused were arrested in night-long raids conducted by the police. “The arrested persons have been remanded in 10 days’ police custody,” said B.L. Meena, the district superintendent of police.

Asked if the women were raped, Meena said: “We can only say that after getting the medical report.”

The two women have been admitted to hospital.

Another relative of the two said the family supported the CPM. The two members from the village to the Trinamul-run Amta gram panchayat belong to the CPM.

When this correspondent visited the village today, he saw that most male members of the families that support the CPM had fled.

Most villagers refused comment but the few who spoke on condition of anonymity said the male CPM supporters had fled fearing arrest following the clash with Trinamul supporters on January 21 over the construction of a road.

The husbands of the three women are among those who have fled. While the husband of the younger lady works in a private company, the husbands of her in-laws are farmers.

The Howrah CPM secretary, Biplab Majumdar, said: “The family members (of the women who were allegedly gang-raped) are our active supporters. For some time, local Trinamul leaders had been pressuring the family to switch to their party but they had refused. The two women were raped because they did not join Trinamul.”

District Trinamul president Arup Roy said: “There is no question of Trinamul being involved in the incident. The area is a CPM belt. I have spoken to the police chief and requested him to take strong action against the culprits.”

The chief medical officer of health of Howrah, Debashis Roy, said “evidence of molestation” had been found while examining the injuries of the women. “We can’t confirm rape till we get the medical report.”

A district official said the power supply was restored this morning by switching on the transformer. The police suspect the attackers had switched off the transformer.