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Arms search led to attack: Family

Aug. 19: Trinamul leaders and activists had gone to the East Midnapore house of the woman whose husband has alleged gang rape and murder in search of arms purportedly hidden there, according to her family.

The 42-year-old woman’s family made the comments on a day the district police chief said the additional chief judicial magistrate’s court would be requested to change the charge against the 12 FIR-named accused to abetment to suicide from gang rape and murder. Police chief S.K. Jain said the appeal would be made on the basis of the post-mortem report, which mentions that there was no evidence of sexual assault and murder.

The superintendent of the sub-divisional hospital where the post-mortem was done, however, said the report was a preliminary one. “We have submitted a preliminary report of the post-mortem to the police. We have preserved the swab and tissue samples for forensic examinations,” Sabyasachi Chakraborty said.

The woman’s husband, a CPM local committee member on the run since the 2011 Assembly elections, has lodged an FIR alleging that she was dragged out of her house on Sunday evening by a Trinamul panchayat leader and several party workers and assaulted and later gang-raped and murdered. The woman was found hanging in her house last morning.

Local Trinamul MLA Dibyendu Adhikari denied the allegations. “The arrests have been made on false charges. No gang rape or murder took place,” he said.

Adhikari also denied that arms were recovered from the woman’s house. “No one from our party went to that house. So there is no question of recovery of arms. If any untoward incident happened to her, the police will look into it,” he said.

Local Trinamul leader Chandan Jana and party workers Swapan Jana and Maniklal Giri have been arrested. The trio were today remanded in five days’ police custody. Chandan was named in the FIR.

“We have received a post-mortem report from the hospital that says the death was caused by hanging. The report also says there was no evidence of sexual assault and murder. We will submit the report to the court and request it to treat the charge as abetment to suicide,” Jain said.

At the woman’s house, her 90-year-old father-in-law and octogenarian mother-in-law recounted the events leading up to the alleged crime.

“On Sunday morning, around a dozen Trinamul leaders and workers led by Debashis Bhuniya, a panchayat samiti functionary, came to our house and asked my younger son where he and his elder brother (the deceased’s husband) had hidden arms. My younger son told them that his elder brother knew about the arms. Then the Trinamul members threatened my daughter-in-law and told her that they would return for the arms,” the father-in-law said.

The younger son, a CPM worker, had fled home after the Assembly polls and had returned on August 15 for a short visit. “He comes home secretly sometimes. But this time, Trinamul workers came to know about his visit,” his mother said.

She said Bhuniya, who has been named in the FIR and is absconding, returned around 5pm on Sunday with around 20 party workers and demanded to know again where the arms had been hidden. Bhuniya’s cellphone was switched off today.

“When my daughter-in-law didn’t say anything, the Trinamul members began digging the ground around our mud-walled two-storey house. My daughter-in-law told them an improvised single-barrel gun was hidden in the straw roof of the cowshed. They found the gun and started beating her up. They said she would have to pay Rs 12 lakh if she could not produce her husband. The Trinamul men dragged her out of the house,” her mother-in-law said.

The father-in-law said his younger son and wife fled to a neighbour’s house.

“Around 10pm, the Trinamul members returned with my daughter-in-law. Her clothes were in disarray. They threatened to kill me if I raised the alarm. One of them hit me on the neck. After that, I fell asleep on the ground floor veranda and did not hear anything. In the morning, I heard that my daughter-in-law was found hanging in her room on the first floor. We believe the Trinamul activists had entered her room,” he said.

According to the complaint by the woman’s husband, she was gang raped in her room late in the night and murdered