Husband was halted from going to police

Read more below

By Staff Reporter
  • Published 8.03.08

Srikrishna Saha had set out for Maniktala police station on Thursday night — around 10 hours after his wife set herself on fire — to lodge a complaint on how some members of the United Central Refugee Council (UCRC) drove Ratna to suicide. But he was stopped midway and the letter detailing how Ratna was ostracised was snatched from him.

“Some members of the CPM’s Bagmari local committee stopped him near the party office on Bagmari Road around 9.20pm and forcibly took away the letter,” said S. Saha, a member of the local Kshudiram Sporting Club.

A forensic team visited 225 Bagmari Road, the Saha family shack, on Friday.

No one in the family was willing to speak but the locality was abuzz with the tale of how CPM leaders swung into action to prevent Srikrishna, a hawker, from lodging a complaint.

His wife committed suicide on Thursday morning after the Kshudiram Palli unit of the UCRC, a CPM-backed organisation in refugee colonies across the city, accused her of “loose morals” and of being “harmful to society”. Ratna left behind two daughters — Sushama, 6, and Sumana, 3,

Though Srikrishna wanted to take her back, the 25-man committee asked Ratna, who had allegedly gone away with local youth Ashok Roy last month, and her husband to leave the locality. By the time Srikrishna returned after finding rented accommodation for the family of four on Thursday, Ratna was dead.

“There is no complaint. We can’t do anything in such a case of ‘unnatural death’,” said Partha Sarathi Ghosh, the deputy commissioner (eastern suburban division).

Ratna’s death has raised “uncomfortable” questions for the CPM. But putting on a brave front, Rupa Bagchi, the CPM legislator from Maniktala, said: “The panel members are elected by the people. We can’t do much when people come to us with grievances.”

Local people, however, are not happy with the panel for its failure to rein in Ashok. “There have been complaints against Ashok before, but they did nothing, as one of his brothers, Babu Roy, is on the committee,” said a neighbour of Srikrishna.

The committee, assistant secretary Naren Das said, intervened only after some members of the Saha family approached it. “You cannot call it a verdict. It is not binding on the family.”

Kshudiram Palli residents do not agree. “The panel operates like a kangaroo court... We have to abide by its rulings,” said a resident.