The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rape accused roams, CPM shields
- Party suggests conciliation and offers money as compensation to victim

Burdwan, Oct. 26: Eight months after a court rejected his plea for anticipatory bail, a rape accused is still roaming free though police say he is absconding and the local CPM unit is trying to 'settle the matter amicably'.

The victim, a widow from Bosepara village in Khandaghosh, about 140 km from Calcutta, went to Burdwan police station in December last year to file a rape complaint against Dhiraj Das, a health inspector at the Khandaghosh block health centre.

'But officials there would not register my complaint. Then I approached the court (in January),' said the woman who lives with her 70-year-old mother.

Following an order from the chief judicial magistrate's court the same month, the police station registered a case.

Das, a resident of Birhata village in the Burdwan police station limits, 115 km from Calcutta, moved an anticipatory bail plea. The local court rejected it in February.

But he is still roaming free in the locality, an investigation by The Telegraph revealed. Das even told this correspondent that he is innocent.

'The woman was in need and I wanted to do her a good turn. I have informed the party (CPM) and they are looking into it. The allegations are baseless,' he said.

The woman said she first met Das at the health centre around the middle of last year. He is said to have offered her the job of looking after his Birhata house and took her there in May.

'From December, he threatened and raped me repeatedly when his wife, a teacher, was away from home. I fled and went to Burdwan police station' the woman alleged.

She said she was summoned by CPM workers at Khandaghosh to a conciliation meeting a little over a month ago.

'We were called to the party office and pressured to settle the matter for Rs 5,000. But I insisted on justice,' she claimed.

Mojeb Ali, the CPM's local committee secretary at Khandaghosh, admitted that Das was close to local party leaders and they wanted the case to be 'settled amicably'.

'Dhirajbabu is close to us. So we had called both the parties and asked them to settle the matter amicably. We even asked Dhirajbabu to pay some money as compensation. But the woman refused to accept the money. So we dropped the matter,' he said.

Ali added that 'discussions were also held at the police station in this regard but to no avail'.

The woman alleged that she was threatened and that Khandaghosh police, too, pressed her to reach a settlement with the accused.

District superintendent of police Niraj Singh has now asked the deputy superintendent (headquarters) to inquire into the entire episode and find out why Das has not yet been arrested.

Frustrated with police inaction even after Das' bail plea was rejected, the woman has approached the state human rights commission ' which has asked the superintendent of police for immediate action ' and the CID, which is conducting a separate probe.

'We have sought details of the case from Burdwan police station. We need it for our investigation,' said Jainal Shah, the CID's investigating officer in Burdwan.

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