The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM rules: Rs 10000 fine for rape
- Local police apathetic, chief orders probe

Behrampore, Oct. 13: The CPM again took the law in its own hands, slapping a fine of Rs 10,000 on a man accused of rape by the victim in a conciliation meeting. It also asked the owner of a cowshed in which the alleged crime took place to pay Rs 1,000 to the girl's father.

Police at Hariharpara in Murshidabad, about 225 km from Calcutta, played second fiddle, confining the victim, a Class VI student, in the police station for two days on the plea that a medical test would be carried out. Neither was she taken to hospital, nor did the police register a complaint by her father Mojem Sheikh.

The police also raided the house of cowshed owner Mainul Khalifa, who has pleaded that the shed is located outside and he has no way of knowing what is going on there, and arrested his wife Sonefa.

When Mojem went to the police station with a copy of the decision taken at the shalishi meeting, both the victim and Sonefa were released. The Hariharpara police made no attempt to arrest the alleged culprit.

Mojem and his family were angry with the ham-handed justice meted out in the Hariharpara CPM local committee office meeting yesterday. 'We were forced to accept the judgment for fear of our lives. If the victim was a CPM leader's daughter, would they have taken the same decision' asked Mojem's wife Moseda Bibi.

But Mainul was not going to take it lying down. He lodged a written complaint with Murshidabad superintendent of police Gyanwant Singh.

Today, Singh ordered immediate arrest of the alleged rapist, registration of a case and medical check-up of the victim. He also asked his deputy, Shahabul Hossain, to conduct an inquiry into the actions of the local police.

'How on earth can a rape case be settled in such a meeting' It is a criminal offence and the culprit must be brought to book. I have asked the DSP to carry out an inquiry and submit a report soon following which I will take action against the policemen responsible,' said Singh.

Recounting the incident, Atar Ali, a CPM member of the Hariharpara panchayat, said: 'Last Friday night, she went missing from her Nashipur home. On Saturday morning, she returned home and told her parents that she was abducted by a local youth, Sajed Khan, on Friday night and forced into Mainul's cowshed. Sajed raped her repeatedly that night.'

Mojem took her daughter to the police station last Sunday. Instead of registering a complaint and sending the victim for a medical check-up, the police kept her in the lock-up, Ali said. He was a signatory to the decision of the meeting.

Nizamuddin, a CPM district committee member who, Ali said, was in the meeting, justified the decision. 'If the police initiated a case, the accused would have been in judicial custody for a month or two before getting bail. Moreover, there would have been a problem during the girl's marriage,' he said.

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