Calcutta, May 6: In a verdict that will pep up the CPM before Sunday’s panchayat election, the Alipore court today acquitted five persons accused of raping Trinamul Congress worker Champala Sardar in 1998.
Sardar was a Trinamul candidate from Aswathaberia village in Bhangar, South 24-Parganas, in the 1998 panchayat election and the incident became a major issue then. The five accused — Anwar Ali Gharami, Chunnat Gharami, Iran Ali Mollah, Biswanath Ruidas and Uday Mandal — were arrested after Sardar lodged an FIR alleging that they had raped her.
Sardar had claimed in the FIR that the five men dragged her into the desolate house of Muchhe Sardar and took turns in raping her. The incident triggered tension as Trinamul made it an issue before the last panchayat poll and several Union ministers came to the state to meet Sardar in nursing home.
First assistant sessions judge Sandipan Banerjee acquitted all the accused as medical reports did not confirm whether Sardar was raped or molested. Statements made by Sardar in court were contradictory, said the judge.
One of the acquitted, Anwar Ali Gharami, is contesting the May 11 election on a CPM ticket from Aswathaberia, the village from where Sardar stood in 1998.
The CPM’s South 24-Parganas secretary, Santimoy Bhattacharjee, today presented Anwar Ali and Chunnat Gharami at a news conference at the zilla parishad office in Alipore. Anwar’s candidature for the rural poll was formally announced there.
“All the five were falsely implicated by Trinamul leader Mamata Banerjee. We had been saying that none of them was involved as the incident did not take place at all. Today’s judgment has proved us right and our candidate for the rural poll, Anwar, has decided to move a defamation case against Sardar,” Bhattacharjee said.
Anwar Ali said his family life and social standing suffered following the allegations of rape levelled against him by Sardar and other Trinamul leaders in the locality. “Who will be responsible for the humiliation we had to face all these five years'” he asked.
CPM leader Biman Bose came down heavily on Trinamul for making “a heinous attempt to malign the CPM”.
“The issue had rocked the state before the 1998 elections. The media had also played it up to embarrass our party. We had been repeatedly saying that our men were not involved.”