The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM brushes aside rape charge

Calcutta, March 8: The CPM today denied the involvement of CPM activists in the gang-rape of a woman in Cooch Behar on February 22.

Three persons were arrested on Thursday after the Trinamul Congress raised a storm about the alleged gang-rape of a 28-year-old woman. She belonged to a CPM women’s organisation in Ghoksadanga in Cooch Behar and the arrested were local CPM activists, Trinamul has claimed.

CPM state secretary Anil Biswas today issued a statement, denying his party’s links to the incident and accusing the Opposition of trying to malign the CPM before the panchayat polls. “There is no such woman (working for his party) in the village as reported in the media. On the contrary, local people in the village have raised questions about the woman’s lifestyle. We have already inquired into the incident and found that none of our party leaders or even members were involved in the incident,” he said.

Police are investigating the case and “we are not ruling out family feud behind the incident”, Biswas added. “Politics has nothing to do with the incident and we feel no political party is involved in it.”

Speaking after the IPS association’s election in Salt Lake, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee asked police officers to clamp down and bring to book offenders like the ones involved in the Cooch Behar incident. “The police should ensure that the offenders do not get away unpunished,” he said.

Apart from the three persons arrested, police in Cooch Behar are looking for another three, including CPM local committee member Samruddin Mian. The two others absconding have been identified as Khirod Barman and Sashi Barman, also said to be CPM supporters.

The chief minister said that in some places, police have joined hands with the criminals. “This police-criminal nexus has to be ended immediately,” he told the officers. Allegations of a nexus between the police and CPM workers has embarrassed the party after its leaders were arrested in connection with an incident of rape and looting at Dhantola in North 24-Parganas.

In his defence of the party, Biswas referred to the case of Champala Sardar, a Trinamul candidate in the last panchayat elections who was reportedly molested by CPM activists. But medical examinations proved the charge wrong.

Such malicious campaigns against the CPM were being run in view of the panchayat polls scheduled in May. “Since the rural elections are approaching, our Opposition parties are trying to spread such canards against the CPM, particularly trying to involve our party in sensitive issues like molestation and rape.”

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