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HC security order for rape victims

Calcutta, April 3: Calcutta High Court today directed police to provide “mental and physical security” to two women gang-raped in Howrah in February and criticised police for the delay in arresting one of the prime accused and failing to nab five others named in the FIR.

Justice Dipankar Dutta also ordered the circle inspector of Amta police to conclude the investigation “promptly and logically”.

The ruling came a day after the judge admonished the director-general of state police for requesting that he be relieved of the duty of probing the murder of a Trinamul dissident’s father in Birbhum.

“It is unfortunate that the police do not take action against the accused until the court orders it,” Justice Dutta said during today’s hearing. “All the accused in the case should be arrested with immediate effect,” the judge ordered before fixing the matter for hearing on May 6.

The Supreme Court had last month laid down a series of guidelines aimed at protecting and rehabilitating victims of sexual assaults. It had also said the Bengal government had failed to protect the fundamental right of a Birbhum girl gang-raped on the orders of a kangaroo court in January.

On the night of February 4, 13 suspected Trinamul workers had broken into a house in Howrah and gang-raped a 26-year-old woman and her 47-year-old aunt-in-law. The women belonged to a family of CPM supporters.

Seven of those named in the FIR were arrested on the night of the gang rape. But local Trinamul leader Ranjit Mondal, one of the prime accused, was arrested on March 30 following a prod by the court on March 27 after the women filed a petition alleging police inaction. The five other accused are absconding.

Appearing for the two women, advocate Udayshankar Chatterjee today told the court that local Trinamul supporters had been threatening his clients and telling them to withdraw the case.

Justice Dutta said: “The circle inspector of Amta police is directed to provide all sorts of mental and physical security to the women and file a compliance report on May 6.”

The judge also told state counsel Sakya Sen that all the 13 named in the FIR should be arrested as early as possible.