Malda, April 3: The district police chief today announced the arrest of three men accused of gang-raping a widow, but cast aspersions on the 17-year-old victim.
Superintendent of police Pankaj Dutta said the teenager, raped by the three thugs at Sahapur in full view of her trussed-up parents on Saturday night, was involved in prostitution.
“She used to bring home her patrons. Her parents were very much aware that their daughter was involved in prostitution,” Dutta said at a news conference, where he paraded the arrested accused.
He said the girl’s husband, with whom she had run away at the age of 13, committed suicide six months ago as “he could not tolerate his wife’s amoral way of life”.
Dutta said the accused told the police that they had gone to “sleep with” the victim on Saturday night. “But after she refused to service them, they raped her,” he said.
He said the police have gathered “evidence” that the widow “regularly serviced guests” at a posh hotel in the district headquarters.
The district police chief’s remarks evoked a sharp response from women leaders, who accused him of trying to justify the rape. “It’s outrageous. The district police chief had no business to talk like this about the gang-rape victim,” said Tripti Pande, a leader of the RSP’s women wing.
In the news conference, Dutta dwelled on the victim’s “character,” saying very little about the three arrested men.
He said the three men, named in the First Information Report lodged by the victim in the Old Malda police station on Sunday, were arrested because “they had raped her against her wishes”.
In her complaint, the girl said the men had assaulted her for more than four hours in the presence of her parents, who could do nothing as they were gagged and trussed up. She said the assailants tried to throttle her when she screamed in pain.
The superintendent of police said residents of Sahapur stumbled upon the “true identity” of the widow when a 60-year-old man was “caught” coming out of the house in the middle of the night three months ago. He said the man was fined Rs 5,000 by the local panchayat in a kangaroo court for “sleeping with the widow.”