The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rapist held, ‘judge’ cop showcaused

Behrampore, Nov. 14: The teenager who allegedly raped 22-year-old Zulekha Biwi and was allowed to get away with it by police after village elders fined him for the crime was arrested last night.

Sub-inspector Haralal Biswas, who presided over the villagers’ court inside Ranitala police station on Sunday, has been showcaused.

Subdivisional police officer Ashesh Roy, who went to Ranitala last night under instructions from the Murshidabad police chief ordered the arrest of Saheb Sheikh.

Saheb’s father had claimed that his son was 17 years old, but police said they had confirmed that he has crossed 18.

“There is no question of presenting him in the juvenile court,” an officer said.

Saheb has been remanded in jail custody for a fortnight.

Sub-inspector Biswas has been told to reply to the showcause notice within a week.

He had said yesterday that the kangaroo court had been organised following officer-in-charge Tanmoy Ghosh’s order.

Ghosh, however, was not at the police station during the so-called trial and appeared to have escaped action for the time being.

The police have started a case against the six self-pro-claimed judges, including local Forward Bloc leader Jahangir Hossain.

To justify their sentence for the rape, the village leaders had said that Zulekha had an “affair” with Saheb.

On November 6, Zulekha was sleeping in the veranda with her deaf-mute husband Masadul and infant son when Saheb sneaked in and pounced on her. She screamed but Masadul could not hear her cries.

He woke up after sometime and tried to catch Saheb, but he fled.

Villagers caught Saheb and took him to a police camp in neighbouring Barianagar. Zulekha submitted a complaint addressed to the Ranitala officer-in-charge with the help of the villagers.

Saheb was kept in Ranitala police station, about 245 km from Calcutta, till Sunday.

Hossain said some villagers and the police pressured them to hold the shalishi. “We’re victims of circumstances.”

Saheb’s father Abdul Alim, who thought that he would be able to save his son by paying the fine of Rs 4,000, said: “I had arranged the money with great effort.”

Zulekha was happy. “We were crestfallen last Sunday,” she said, sitting next to her husband.

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