|Barun Makal after his arrest. Picture by Gopal Senapati
Howrah, Feb. 9: Howrah police today arrested a local Trinamul leader who had allegedly led the gang rape of two women from a family of CPM supporters on the night of February 4.
Barun Makal, who had unsuccessfully contested the panchayat polls last year, is the eighth person to be arrested in the case. Seven others named in the FIR by one of the women’s mother-in-law have already been nabbed.
The police said Barun, in his late twenties, had been hiding in his aunt’s house, 20km from the village where the two women were allegedly gang-raped. Their husbands had fled the village along with other CPM supporters after a clash with Trinamul workers in January.
District superintendent of police B.L. Meena said: “We knew Barun was hiding somewhere not very far from his home. We were keeping an eye on the houses of his relatives and had alerted neighbouring police stations. Yesterday, we came to know that he was hiding in his aunt’s house in Gadiara.”
A police team raided the Gadiara house around 2.30am today and arrested Barun, who was asleep.
The Trinamul leader was produced in a local court and remanded in 10 days’ police custody.
Several police officers said preliminary investigations had revealed that Barun had “led the gang rape”.
Asked about a Trinamul leader’s alleged involvement in a gang rape, district party president and agri-marketing minister Arup Roy said: “We had asked the police chief to take strong action against the culprits, irrespective of political colour. Barun Makal was named in the FIR and now the law will take its own course.”
Officers investigating the case had said the sole motive behind the assault was to create fear in the village of CPM supporters before the Lok Sabha polls.
A personal grudge against the family is yet to be established.
On the night of February 4, the assailants had allegedly disconnected power supply to the area where the house is located by switching off the transformer.
According to the complaint, about a dozen youths banged on the door of their house around 10pm and threatened to break it. As soon as the door was opened, the assailants barged in and gang-raped the complainant’s daughter-in-law and another relative.