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Village head’s advice: marry alleged rapist

- Victim kin told to withdraw case

Suri, March 17: A Birbhum tribal girl was allegedly gang-raped by two youths last night and her family alleged that they were approached by two village heads who told them to marry the victim off to one of the accused and withdraw the police complaint.

The alleged intervention of the village heads comes a couple of months after another village morol in the same district ordered the gang rape of a tribal woman on January 22 because she was in a relationship with a mason who did not belong to her community.

The family members of the 17-year-old girl allegedly gang-raped last night refused to listen to the village heads and lodged a complaint at Suri police station this morning.

The girl’s father said the victim had gone to the village tube well to wash off the colours of Holi from her clothes when she was dragged away by the two youths from a neighbouring village to a nearby poultry farm.

The youths, said to be between 16 and 17 years, have been arrested.

Told that the accused could be minors, Birbhum police chief Alok Rajoria said the families of the youths would first have to show proof of their age. “The two have been charged with gang rape.”

In case the accused are proved to be minors and found guilty, the maximum sentence they can get is three years in a juvenile remand home.In the case of an adult, the punishment for the same crime is life term.

The youths, who are farm labourers, will be produced in court tomorrow.

According to the complaint, the Class X student had gone to the tube well 150m from her home around 8.30pm after playing Holi with friends.

“My daughter went out around 8.30pm. When she did not return after half-an-hour, my wife, sister and I went out looking for her. But we did not find her,” the girl’s father said.

The girl’s family searched the neighbouring villages thinking she might have gone to a friend’s house, but to no avail.

“Around 11pm, a villager who works in a local poultry farm rushed to our house on a bicycle and said he had seen a bleeding girl lying in a nearby field. We ran to the field and found my daughter in tattered clothes and crying. We brought her home. She told us that she was gagged and then dragged to the farm. The two youths raped my daughter there,” the father said.

Officers at Suri police station were informed around midnight. A team came to the girl’s house and also raided the homes of the youths in a neighbouring village who were absconding. They were arrested today.

A medical test was done on the girl this morning.

The girl’s aunt said the morol of the village where the two youths lived today came to the victim’s house along with the headman of the girl’s village. The two asked the family members to come to a meeting they had organised later in the day, she added.

“The morols of both villages were present at the meeting along with about 20 villagers. The morol of the neighbouring village asked us to marry off our girl to one of the two youths and withdraw the police complaint. Our headman also supported him. But we declined the offer and told them that the law should take its course,” the aunt said.

Shyam Besra, the headman of the village where the youths lived, denied such a meeting was held. “I only went to the girl’s house with the morol of her village and asked the family members to marry her off to one of the boys if there was any history of a relationship,” Besra said.

He added: “I have also spoken to the two accused. They told me they were framed. If they are culprits, they must be punished.”

The local headman echoed Besra.

Asked if he was aware of any such meeting, Rajoria said: “We don’t have any information on that.”