The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lady tonsured, dumped in pond for ‘affair’

Calcutta, July 15: Anjali Haldar, a single mother of two, did not bargain for torture when she hired Prabin Mallick to teach her daughters.

On July 3, Anjali was dragged out of home by some among a 50-strong group for “breaking a home” –- Prabin and wife Shubhra’s –- stripped and dumped in a pond, and taken out and tonsured.

Their reason was: “She was having an affair with her children’s tutor.”

The 30-year-old nurse’s father, Kalipada, filed an FIR with Sonarpur police the next day. The same night, the police called on them, but they came with principal accused Gopinath Mandal, a local CPM leader.

“They had Gopinath with them. I went back in after asking the policemen what use their visit was since they had brought with them the principal accused,” Kalipada said today.

After 11 days of threat-enforced silence, Anjali has decided to approach the state human rights commission. She will do so tomorrow.

The veil of secrecy thrown over her case was lifted today after local Trinamul Congress MLA Nirmal Mandal stepped in.

Trouble started when Prabin, who lives close to Anjali’s neighbourhood, was hired to teach Anamika and Pratima.

Soon, tongues started wagging in the lower-middle-class locality about her “affair” with the tutor. Anjali, with her parents’ support, however, chose to ignore the rumours. “I thought it was unavoidable for a woman separated from her husband,” she said.

On July 3, Prabin turned up at the Haldar home at 5 pm to teach the girls.

He confided in Anjali and her 50-year-old mother Kajal about his troubles with wife Shubhra. Prabin said he was fed up and would leave for his ancestral home in Burdwan.

As he was speaking, Shubhra stepped in along with Gopinath and around 50 other men, said to be CPM cadre and members of Vivek Sangha, a local club.

First, they smashed everything in sight. Then they pulled Prabin out and took him to the club.

Another group abused Anjali while her four- and six-year-old daughters clung to her. All three were dragged out and thrown into a nearby pond -– Anjali after being stripped. Even Kajal was not spared. She was thrashed when she tried to resist.

“None of us gathered the courage to reason with the boys. They did not seem in a mood to listen,” a neighbour said, refusing to give his name as the “situation was still not normal”.

By the time Kalipada returned home later in the evening, his daughter Anjali had been tonsured for not having had “enough punishment for her sins”. She was kicked on her way back home.

The next morning, Kalipada filed the FIR at Sonarpur police station, naming 14, including Gopinath and Shubhra.

South 24-Parganas additional superintendent of police (industrial) Rajesh Kumar Singh said a “few people” had been detained for interrogation. “I have asked the officer-in-charge to conduct a thorough probe into the incident and have asked him to explain the inaction.”

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