The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Whipped, scalded and slashed for theft

Burdwan, July 20: Pradip Majhi, an employee of a medicine wholesaler, was lashed with leather belts, hit with wooden planks and slashed on the wrists for about 10 hours yesterday. All for allegedly stealing money from the shop where he worked.

The medieval spell of “punishment” was meted out inside the office of the Bengal Chemists’ and Druggists’ Association here.

Pradip, 27, said between the lashing, clobbering and slashing, burning bidis were pressed against his hands and chips of ice held against his scrotum.

After the torture, he was thrown out of the office. People who spotted a tottering and bleeding Pradip rushed him to the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital last night. His family was informed.

Elder brother Dilip has lodged an FIR against three persons, all members of the association.

However, no arrests have been made as yet.

Residents of Pirbaharam, where the Majhis live, said they would move the human rights commission. One of the neighbours, Sudeb Sarkar, said they will pursue the case with the rights panel.

From his hospital bed, a traumatised Pradip said he had gone to open the shop at Kalyani market in Burdwan town on Saturday morning when the owner’s nephew accused him of stealing money. “As soon as he (the nephew) charged me with theft, two other people from other medicine shops in the area came forward and they started beating me up,” he said.

Around noon, they dragged him to the office at Khoshbagan, about a kilometre away.

“Till about nine at night, they beat me up to extract a confession. But I continuously told them I was innocent. When I refused to admit the theft, they slashed my hands and feet with blades and pressed burning bidi ends on my hands. At one point, they pressed ice chips against my scrotum. When I fell ill, they stopped and forced me to give a declaration on a sheet of paper that I was not beaten up. Then they released me,” said Pradip.

An official at Burdwan Sadar police station said an investigation had begun following the FIR and Pradip’s statements. Senior police officers, including superintendent B.N. Ramesh, were away at a meeting in Durgapur.

Sub-divisional officer Nabagopal Hira said he had “heard” about the incident and would ask for details tomorrow.

Dilip said his brother had been working at the medicine shop for the past six years and the charge of theft brought against him was false. “Why didn’t they lodge a complaint with the police'” he asked.

The secretary of the Burdwan chapter of the druggists’ association, Ranendranath Roy, admitted that Pradip was taken to the office though it was closed on Saturday.

“This is a very unfortunate incident. We are inquiring into it. If any member is found to be involved, action will be taken against him,” he said.

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