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Wednesday , February 16 , 2011
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Girl chasers stab boy to death, DM’s guards 100m away refuse to step in

Barasat, Feb. 15: A Class X student was stabbed to death by a group that pursued his sister, sprinkled alcohol on her and pounced on the protesting boy, unchallenged by armed guards in a district magistrate’s bungalow less than 100 metres away despite the girl thumping on the gates and pleading for help.

Rajib Das, aged 16 and scheduled to appear for Madhyamik examinations next week, died this morning at RG Kar Hospital after he was attacked in Barasat for trying to save his sister Rinku Das, a call centre employee who was on her way home from her office in the city.

The guards in the IAS officer’s bungalow could have saved the boy but at least one of them cited protocol and expressed inability to intervene. “We can’t leave the post. You go to the police station,” Rinku quoted one of the armed guards as having said from behind the gates.

The guards gave the telephone number of the Barasat police station, about a kilometre away, and “advised” her to make a call.

When Rinku, 23, started running back to her brother, Rajib’s limp body was being carted by a rickshaw van. The van-puller and its lone passenger had found him lying on the edge of Kachhari Maidan, the backyard of the homes of top North 24-Parganas officials that turns into a den of drunks and drug addicts after darkness.

“My brother wouldn’t have had to die if the police came to my help,” the girl said this afternoon.

A car from her Lenin Sarani office had dropped Rinku in Sealdah, from where she took a train to Barasat, on the outskirts of Calcutta. Every night, either Rajib or his father would wait at Barasat station to take her home.

Rajib was cycling his sister home, at Banikanthanagar 2km away, when the gang stopped them on the road connecting the station with Jessore Road. They wanted to douse his sister in liquor and take her away. Rajib would not let that happen.

Rinku saw her brother alive for the last time around 11.30pm, surrounded by three men and being kicked and punched. It was opposite the zilla parishad bhavan, a few metres from the district police quarters.

When she saw him next, “blood was oozing out of a gash in his stomach and he was groaning”.

Senior police officers said no rules could prevent a man in uniform from rushing to the aid of a victim. At least one of the armed guards could have gone with the girl to enquire about the matter, they said.

The North 24-Parganas district magistrate cited an “inquiry” to brush off Rinku’s account. “I’ve heard about the allegation but, after conducting an inquiry, I found it was not true,” Vinod Kumar told The Telegraph.

“He (the DM) is a liar. I shook the iron gates of his bungalow for five minutes. Had his guards come to my help, my brother’s life could have been saved,” Rinku said when told about the DM’s remarks.

District superintendent of police Rahul Srivastava, who lives opposite the DM’s house, said Rajib was killed for protecting his sister. “We took the girl to the spot and reconstructed the event today. The boy, too, gave a statement before his death.”

However, no arrest had been made in 24 hours. “We are trying to identify the culprits,” said Srivastava.

It fell upon a cook to show the concern the guards would not. Prosen Das, who works as a cook in Calcutta, was returning home in a cycle van. “I saw the boy lying on his abdomen. As we (Das and the van-puller) went close, we saw him bleeding. We picked him up and started going towards the hospital when we saw his sister running,” Das said this evening. Neither the DM nor the police had sought his account till then.

Sensing trouble, Rinku had asked Rajib to pedal faster. “But one of them, who had a swollen eye, possibly because of an infection, caught up with us and held the cycle by the handle. One of them was carrying a liquor bottle. They surrounded us and started shaking their legs as if they were dancing,” she recounted.

The man with the bottle sprinkled liquor on Rinku and was about to pour the entire bottle on her head when Rajib protested. “They pinned him down and started kicking and punching him. My brother was pleading for mercy,” recalled Rinku.

One of them whipped out a gun from his waist and told Rajib: “Are you a don of this area? See this? It can silence you for good.”

Rinku sought help from four passengers on a van, but they fled seeing the gun.

“She screamed on the road for over 20 minutes and no one came to her help. Can you imagine?” said Babu Saha, her neighbour.

“Everyone here knows what happens on the ground after sunset but we still have to suffer this,” Saha added.

Sunil Mukherjee, the Trinamul Congress chairperson of Barasat municipality, told Rinku it was her fate. “Ki aar kora jabe… kopale ja lekha chhilo tai hoyechhe,” Mukherjee said sitting in her tiled-roof home.

Rinku exploded in anger. “How can you say this? Would you have said the same thing had it happened to your brother and sister?” she asked.

Her father Tapan Das, a tea-leaf trader, was at RG Kar Hospital, completing the formalities over Rajib’s body. His wife Gayatri was sobbing inconsolably, flanked by Rinku and her elder sister, who came from her in-laws’ to be with the family.

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