About 100 schoolchildren marched in two neat columns under an overcast sky on Thursday morning to the spot at Kamduni where one of their college-going sisters was murdered last week.
“Onekgulo dushtu lok amader didike mere phelechhe. Ora sabai rakkhosh, oder mere phelo (Some bad men murdered our sister. They are all demons, kill them all),” said Arpita Mandal, a Class IV student at Kamduni Primary School where the victim had learnt her alphabet and arithmetic.
All she knows, like the rest of the children from the school, is that their sister was killed by some “evil” men.
Head teacher Pradip Mukherjee said: “We organised the procession to pay homage (to the victim). The students don’t know the gory details. They only know that some people murdered their beloved elder sister.”
Accompanied by six teachers, they lit candles under a tree in front of the house in which a gang of drunken goons gang-raped and murdered the college girl with a fatal blow to her head last Friday while she was walking home alone.
Nandini Ghosh, a Class III student, said she missed didi because she used to encourage her about her studies whenever they met. “She used to tell me to study hard and had asked me to go to her house if I needed any help,” she said.
Parents of some of the students joined the procession that started around 11am. They marched silently along the same — and only — road to the village that the victim took from the bus stop last Friday.
“The march is spontaneous. No one asked us to. Yes, the teachers informed the parents because our children are taking part in the programme. I walked with my daughter to ensure her safety today and for days to come,” Kamduni resident Balai Karmakar said.
The two-and-a-half-km stretch from the Rajarhat-Taki Road intersection to the local BDO office has been notorious for hooch dens and drunken thugs of the fishery mafia. “No girl or woman has walked this road alone without encountering, to say the least, a lewd remark from the louts,” a villager said.
“There is no question of travelling on the road alone. My husband took me on his bicycle to Kharibari to see a doctor on Wednesday. While we were passing the house where the girl was brutalised, I shivered and kept my eyes closed. I did not have the courage to look at the place,” said Mita Koyral, a homemaker.
Kamduni residents alleged that the rowdies enjoy political patronage and, hence, police don’t take action against them. The villagers are expecting the chief minister to visit the family and assure them of stringent punishment to the culprits currently in police custody.
Mrityunjoy Mandal summed up the mood in the village: “If this brutal murder isn’t one of the most heinous crimes that the state has witnessed than what is? What pains us most is that the chief minister hasn’t uttered a single word.”
The victim’s brothers, Sandip and Prasenjit, requested the chief minister during their meeting at Writers’ on Wednesday to punish the culprits.
“She said nothing when we asked her to come to our village. Rather she changed the topic asking about our demands,” Sandeep said on Thursday.
Recounting their visit to Writers’ after a daylong drama of yes and nos, Sandeep said: “She assured us that the culprits would be punished.”
The villagers are not convinced. “The police will disappear in a few days. The reign of the rogues will return,” said farmer Nirmal Ghosh.