The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Poll rape cloud on CPM

Budbud (Burdwan), May 24: Three days after a tribal woman was raped allegedly for not voting for the CPM in the panchayat polls, a complaint was lodged with the police today. But it was only after the victim approached the additional district magistrate and submitted a memorandum to him that an FIR was lodged.

When the victim, along with BJP activists, went to the police station this morning to lodge an FIR against Zakir Hussain — brother of Manurul Islam, the newly-elected CPM panchayat member — and Sheikh Kibria, police reportedly refused to accept a complaint.

“The police here made our supporters sit from 8 am to 5 pm without taking the complaint and constantly urged them to mutually settle their grievances. It was after we approached the additional district magistrate and handed over a memorandum to him that the police took in the FIR and sent the victim for a medical examination to the Bidhannagar hospital in Durgapur,” district BJP president Naresh Konar said.

Burdwan superintendent of police B.N. Ramesh, however, said he was not aware of the incident. None of the two accused have been arrested yet.

Sitting at the CPM office here, the party’s Galsi zonal committee member Pratul Chandra Roy said the gram panchayat was held by the Opposition till the present elections. “Whoever is linked with this incident should be booked and punished, there is no question of pardon, whatever their political affiliation,” Roy said. He denied that the accused were CPM members.

At the hospital, the victim said that local CPM leaders had been threatening the tribals to vote for them or face the consequences.

“Hussain told me to vote for his brother and last Tuesday night, both he and Kibria forced themselves on me. Later, when my people protested, the CPM leaders told me to remain silent as it would tarnish my reputation and my husband, who worked in Hussain’s rice mill, would lose his job,” the victim alleged.

“We have been BJP supporters, all the 20 tribal families in the village. On Tuesday night, Hussain told me to go to the rice mill and work, then he and the other man forcibly entered our mud hut and raped my wife. When she raised an alarm they fled,” the victim’s husband, Kamal Hansda, said.

Another village tribal, Sambhu Murmu, alleged that after the incident, local CPM leader Sheikh Siraj urged them not to go to the police. “There were repeated sittings at the village-level and even the officer-in-charge of the police station, Nazrul Islam, was present, but the offenders were not present on any occasion. The leaders then told us to do whatever we felt like,” Murmu added.

The local BJP leadership has vowed to launch a movement to protest against the incident. State BJP president Tathagata Roy said a three-member team will visit the village tomorrow.

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