The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rape charges fly thick & fast in poll run-up

Nanoor (Birbhum), March 24: Rival political parties look set to make rape the most important electoral plank in the run-up to the May panchayat polls.

Following the Dhantola incident in Nadia, in which two CPM functionaries are allegedly involved, and the Ghoksadanga rape case in Cooch Behar, charges and counter-charges of rape has surfaced involving the Marxists as well as the Trinamul Congress.

A 22-year-old woman has levelled charges against Sheikh Jamir, said to be a CPM worker, and has filed an FIR with the Nanoor police station stating that the man had raped her on March 22. A mother of three, the woman alleged that Jamir forced himself on her while her husband was away. I let him in as we knew him and he belonged to Harmur village where we stay, the woman said.

On the other hand, another woman owing allegiance to the CPM filed an FIR with the same police station on March 21 alleging that two Trinamul workers, Sheikh Sulaiman and Sheikh Munir raped her in her Thupsara village house the day before. In both cases, the men are poor farmers.

The Harmur incident is not an isolated one as the CPM has begun terrorising our supporters before the panchayat polls, pointed out Anubrata Mondal, the district secretary of the Youth Trinamul Congress.

He alleged that the woman was raped as both she and her husband were popular workers of the party.

On the other hand, the CPMs Nanoor zonal committee secretary, Samir Bhattacharya, alleged that Trinamul had become desperate to try and undermine the partys popularity before the panchayat elections. In the past few days, there have been attempts by the Trinamul Congress to try and implicate our workers in false cases, he said.

The CPM today threatened to launch a movement against Trinamul and police. We want the culprits spreading terror and creating tension in the area arrested, Bhattacharya said.

An old woman of Thupsara village, Hasina Bibi, pointed out that the womenfolk were living in terror as the panchayat polls are drawing near. I have told the women in our family not to venture out alone and even keep the doors of their houses shut after dark, Hasina Bibi said.

According to K.B. Ali, the circle inspector of Bolpur, raids have been conducted in both the cases but no one has been arrested as yet.

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