The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Woman bears protest brunt

Balurghat, June 7: A woman was virtually stripped and her hair snipped off when she protested against a group of people, allegedly running a prostitution racket in her village.

Purnima's husband, a resident of Idrakpur area ' 30 km from here ' too was not spared. Ramashis Rabidas was tied to a tree and beaten up when he tried to intervene and rescue his wife yesterday. Three persons have been arrested, though the 27-year-old woman had lodged a complaint against seven this morning.

The people of the area have sided with the stricken couple. Narrating their ordeal, Ramashis's mother, Shanti Rabidas, said: Like most couples, my son and daughter-in-law, too, had frequent fights.'

Yesterday morning, when Purnima ran out of the house after a quarrel, she stumbled against Gopal Saha, a neighbour. Without any provocation, Gopal dragged her into the house and started beating her up. He was joined by Bapi Saha, Milan Saha and others, including a woman, Namita Saha.'

Ramashis, who is a van-rickshaw driver, rushed to his wife's rescue. But he was tied to a jackfruit tree on the compound of his house and thrashed. 'They then cut off Purnima's long tresses and ripped off her saree when another neighbour, Paresh Mondal, intervened. They also beat him up. But when Purnima fainted in humiliation, the attackers fled,' Shanti said.

According to Ramashis, some time ago, a person called Milan Roy had arrived in the area from Bangladesh and set up 'a den of vice'.

'It is because of this man that all kinds of criminal activities began here. They run a prostitution racket here and recently they had made some indecent proposals to my wife. Ever since she protested, they have been looking for an opportunity to teach her a lesson,' Ramashis said. Akhil Sarkar, a villager, too, backed Ramashis. 'We have been keeping a watch on certain persons here. They bring women from different areas for their racket,' he alleged.

The inspector-in-charge of Balurghat police station, Pradyut Das, said they have arrested Gopal Saha, Bapi Saha and Bani Mondol. 'We are looking for the others,' he said.

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