Kamduni had wanted lights on its dark and desolate roads and some form of transport so its children could go out to study, but the Bengal government has chosen to give a dole to three clubs there for the “development of sports”.
Three local clubs would get Rs 1 lakh each from the state government on January 7 but the village where one of its few college-going girls was raped and killed last July is asking why.
Seven months on, the only road leading to the village from the Rajarhat-Taki Main Road still plunges into darkness as the sun goes down and the women don’t dare venture out. The men think drinking in public in the large pockets of darkness is their right and the administration still promises to do “all that is needed to secure the place”.
No form of transport connects this village, 33km from the heart of Calcutta, to the main thoroughfare and school-going girls return in large groups, not in ones and twos, even during the day.
“After dark, we dare not venture out. The roads that run along the bheris (fisheries) don’t feel safe anymore,” said a woman in her late 30s.
The frightening absence of change in Kamduni and the sense of insecurity among its women came into sharp focus once again after the death of a teenager who was raped twice in two days in Madhyamgram, some 10km away.
State minister for food and civil supplies, Jyotipriya Mullick, also the Trinamul Congress observer for North 24-Parganas, said the financial support was aimed at promoting ”development of sports” across the region.
Mullick felt the government had “already launched several schemes to help the poor in this village. Uniting over a game of cricket or football would be the next best thing to develop the bond among people that has suffered (since the rape-murder)”.
Three clubs — Tarun Sangha, Netaji Kishor Sangha and Kamduni Youth Star — would be handed over the cheques during a function on January 7. “This would be in addition to a scheme where we have been distributing rice and wheat to 1,304 families at Rs 2 a kilo,” he added.
Since June 7, when the college girl was raped and murdered, Kamduni has been sucked into a political tussle with every party and its supporters making a beeline for the village. But the only change that has taken place is a split of the humongous 240sqkm Barasat police station into four — Duttapukur, Madhyamgram, Sashan and Barasat.
A temporary police picket, too, has been posted. But two policemen at the end of a long, dark road have done little to provide a sense of security.
“We had wanted a permanent police camp in our village. We had asked for the camp when we met the chief minister at Writers’. But that has not happened,” said one of the two brothers of the victim.
“We never asked for money from the government,” said Sukanta Kayal of Kayal Para, one of the prominent faces of protest in Kamduni. “We had asked for properly lit roads, schools and a permanent police presence. A sense of fear hangs in the evening air. Many would not dare speak up about this feeling of helplessness but the fear remains.”
Most of Kamduni’s school-going girls have to travel at least 8km to places like Rajarhat, Bishnupur and Kirtipur for their education. In the afternoon when schools get over, parents take turns to escort girls in uniform back home.
The colleges are further away and most girls skip classes after 3pm to head home before dark. Studying science is out of the question because practical classes stretch into the evening at times.
“The other demands would be met within January,” Mullick said when asked about the promise of lights and transport. Kamduni is waiting.