Mamata does it again in rape case
Feb. 28: Crying “natok shajachchhe” (staging an act), chief minister Mamata Banerjee today again passed her judgement in a rape case even before police investigations are over.
Much in the vein that she leaped to a conclusion in the Park Street rape case, the chief minister today sought to punch holes in the complaint by a woman who said she was raped after being abducted from a train in Burdwan’s Katwa on Saturday.
The complaint is still under investigation and scientific tests are being carried out. However, accounts from the ground suggest that Mamata may have jumped the gun on the woman’s family and the circumstances leading to the complaint to the police.
Standing at the podium in Writers’ Buildings and looking at director-general of police Naparajit Mukherjee who nodded in agreement, Mamata said: “What was the complaint in Katwa? A woman was raped in a train. Medical evidence does not prove rape. She has said her husband is a CPM supporter.”
The chief minister could not have made a more insensitive comment. The 35-year-old woman’s husband had passed away 11 years ago, said a neighbour, who is also a Trinamul leader.
Without naming the CPM, Mamata said allegations of rape were being raised to bring a bad name to the state. “A political party is doing all this, shouting rape. The harmads are playing this drama,” Mamata said. “Harmad-der diye natok shajachhe jatey Banglar nam kharap hochhe (They are staging an act with the help of harmads, which is giving Bengal a bad name).”
The chief minister has slipped up here, too. The local Trinamul leader and neighbour told The Telegraph that he, not CPM activists, had taken the woman to the police.
According to the police and the victim’s complaint, the woman was travelling in a local train near Pachundi in Burdwan on Saturday night with her 11-year-old daughter when some armed goons entered the compartment and started looting the passengers.
When they came to the woman, they forced her to part with her earrings, gagged her and started screaming that a passenger had fallen off the train. This alerted the guard who asked the driver to stop the train.
As soon as the train came to a halt, the goons dragged the woman from the train to a paddy field just beyond the railway tracks and allegedly raped her. They also threatened that if she complained to anyone, they would kill her.
The woman came back to the train, collected her daughter and, because of the threat, went to her home in Ambargram in Katwa without making any immediate complaint. She later narrated her plight to her brother-in-law, Arun Das Bairagya.
Bikash Majumdar, the Ketugram Block II Trinamul president and a neighbour of the victim, told The Telegraph this evening: “Arun came running to me that night and told me what had happened to the woman.”
Bikash Majumdar added: “I went to the woman and told her to file a complaint. Then, I accompanied her to the government railway police office in Katwa and she lodged a complaint that she had been raped. After that I accompanied her to the Katwa sub-divisional hospital where a medical examination was carried out and we came back home early in the morning.”
On Sunday, Dilip Mitra, the director-general of the railway police, had told reporters that the physical medical examination had suggested rape.
“The medical report, after a physical examination, has revealed injury marks on her private parts indicating forced intercourse suggestive of rape. For a foolproof result, we have taken a swab from the victim and sent it along with her clothes for a forensic test,” Mitra had said on Sunday.
A district police officer said that the swab test result would take a few days to come. “That will confirm whether the rape took place,” he said. He expressed surprise at the chief minister’s statement that the medical evidence does not prove rape.
“It is too early to make such a conclusion,” the officer said. “The physical examination has suggested rape and the swab test results are yet to come in. That result would be conclusive in proving the rape charge. I think this is a case of jumping the gun.”
Contacted today, Mitra said that he would not comment and was not aware of what was happening as he had handed over the case to the district police on Sunday. “I have nothing to say,” Mitra said.
On Mamata’s allegation that the woman’s husband was a CPM supporter, Bikash Majumdar expressed surprise. “Her husband Bhuban Das Bairagya was a marginal farmer and agricultural labourer and had died 11 years ago. She is a widow. As far as I know, her husband did not have any political leanings. His brother Arun Das is a supporter of our party and comes for Trinamul rallies and meetings.”
Majumdar expressed surprise at “Didi’s” comments on the Katwa rape case. “I learnt from the TV today about the comments of Didi. It is difficult to believe it because I know the victim and how she leads a difficult life bringing up her two daughters after her husband was electrocuted 11 years ago. She works in a sewing centre and works hard. How can I disbelieve her? I helped her not as a Trinamul leader but as her neighbour,” a villager said.
Other villagers, too, expressed surprise at Mamata’s charge that the rape case was concocted by the CPM.
“If that was the case, how is it that a local Trinamul leader would take her to the police to lodge a complaint? Bikash Majumdar was with her the whole night, helping her with her problems, and accompanied her to the hospital for a medical examination.”
At Writers’, Mamata said that in rape cases, action had to be taken but after verifying the claims first.
“The government has to take action but it has to be found out whether it is true or not…. If the police do not take action, criticism is bound to take place. Culprits will not be spared. If such things really happen, then they have to be tackled strongly,” she said.