Cooch Behar, March 18: A 45-year-old man was arrested yesterday for raping his 10-month-old niece in a tea garden in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district.
The child’s father, the other uncle and the grandmother, too, have been arrested. They had prevented the child’s mother from lodging a complaint against the accused.
The incident had taken place on March 10 at Makrapara tea estate, 155 km from here, and since then the woman, Jumi Biswakarma, had been kept confined to the house. Yesterday, she managed to escape from the clutches of her captors and went to the Birpara police station to lodge a complaint.
Police said the child was admitted initially to the Birpara block primary health centre and later referred to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital. The arrested were produced before the subdivisional judicial magistrate in Alipurduar and remanded in judicial custody.
“We have arrested Madan Biswakarma for rape and the others — Bhakta Biswakarma, his younger brother, Bhalu and their mother Kanchi — for confining Jumi and preventing her from lodging a complaint,” said circle inspector of Birpara police station Dipesh Goswami. He said the child bore injury marks.
“The child’s mother told us that on March 10, she had left her daughter at home and gone out to collect firewood. The rest of the family was also at work in the field. Half-an-hour later when Jumi returned, she heard the baby crying. On entering the room, she was horrified to find her brother-in-law brutalising the child. On seeing the mother, Madan just walked out,” Goswami said.
According to Jumi, the three men in the family and their mother had since then forced her to remain silent. “When she got the first opportunity, she came to us. We were shocked. Immediately, we went to the labour lines, arrested the four and took the child to the block primary health centre,” Goswami said.
Madan, however, has denied the charges and blamed the child’s mother for framing him. “She is out to get me for no reason,” Madan told his interrogators.
Jumi had been married to Bhakta two years ago. “Since then, she had been repeatedly tortured by her husband and in-laws. She is in a state of shock ever since her the assault on her daughter,” Goswami said.
The incident has sent shockwaves through the Birpara area. Pradesh Congress leader Mannalal Jain said: “It is a crime that words cannot condemn. We demand a thorough inquiry.” Veteran RSP leader Suresh Talukdar also used very strong words to condemn the incident. “An incident such as this is difficult to come to terms with. The police should see to it that the guilty are punished,” he said.