The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM cadre strip & torture woman

Malda, March 19: Rapped for the “involvement” of its workers in the Dhantola and Chheramari gang-rapes, the CPM has acted fast in Malda, promising to “banish” activists blamed for stripping and torturing a woman.

The ruling party, which accused the police of “dragging in” the party in the gang-rape of a housewife in Cooch Behar’s Chheramari, patted the law enforcement agency on the back for “quick action” at Dangapara, where four CPM workers have so far been arrested for brutally assaulting a 38-year-old mother of three on Sunday night.

“We are satisfied with the police action. They acted on the complaint promptly and arrested most of the accused,” Old Malda CPM zonal committee secretary Probir Lahiri said.

Lahiri said the accused CPM workers tarnished the party’s image. “We condemn unequivocally what they have done to the woman. It’s inexcusable. They will all be driven out of the party,” he said.

In a complaint lodged with the Malda police on Monday, Dipali Sarkar charged the six accused, including her sister-in-law Mono Rajbanshi, a CPM gram panchayat member, with tying her to a pole in her backyard and then stripping and thrashing her. She said the six people accused her of adultery she never committed.

Bruised physically and mentally, the woman is recovering in a hospital, her cracked skull still swathed in bandage. She said the accused turned on her after she refused to attend a kangaroo court.

The court was called by the CPM-controlled Mahishbathani gram panchayat to try her for “sleeping with” a young man from the village she had travelled with a month ago. She said she had asked the man to take her to his brother living in Varanasi since she was afraid of travelling alone.

She said her husband lived mostly away from home, working for a roving jatra group.

The accused gram panchayat member is missing, but police said they are looking for her. Hunt is also on for a male accused.

Police said the assault was family-related and was not political in any way. “It’s the result of a family quarrel. No political party has anything to do with it,” Malda superintendent of police Pankaj Dutta said.

The district police chief said the woman was “mistreated” by the family on suspicion that she had an affair with the young man she had travelled with. “It’s a serious case. Those involved will be brought to justice.”

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