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Calcutta HC orders CBI probe into Hanskhali rape and death

The division bench said the high court would monitor the investigation and asked the central agency to periodically submit progress reports
Calcutta High Court.
Calcutta High Court.
File photo

Tapas Ghosh   |   Calcutta   |   Published 13.04.22, 02:53 AM

Calcutta High Court on Tuesday handed over to the CBI the probe into the Hanskhali rape case in which a 14-year-old Class IX student died after she was allegedly gang-raped at the birthday party of a local Trinamul leader’s son on April 4.

The order came on a day the same division bench headed by Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava tasked Calcutta police special commissioner Damayanti Sen with monitoring the investigations into four other rape complaints in different parts of Bengal.

In the rape case at Hanskhali in Nadia, the division bench said the court would monitor the investigation and asked the CBI to periodically submit progress reports.

The bench asked the state-appointed special investigation team (SIT) to hand over all documents related to the case to the CBI with immediate effect. The bench directed the SIT to hand over all persons arrested in the case to the CBI.

The Trinamul leader’s son, Sohail Gayali, 21, and his friend Prabhakar Poddar, 20, have been arrested so far.

The girl’s family members in Nadia said they were forced to cremate her body without an autopsy or a death certificate following pressure from Sohail’s father Samar Gayali.

The court asked the CBI to place its preliminary report in the case on May 2.

Sen’s task

On the rape complaints at Matia in Howrah, English Bazar in Malda, Deganga in North 24-Parganas and Bansdroni in Calcutta, the division bench earlier in the day gave Sen liberty to take any step for the sake of proper investigations.

Sen, credited with cracking the 2012 Park Street rape case that was initially described as “fabricated” by chief minister Mamata Banerjee, has been asked to file a report before the court on April 20 on the four cases.

The order came after families of the victims in all the four cases submitted separate petitions seeking the court’s intervention and expressed their distrust in the police. The court clubbed the cases and then issued the order.

After Sen had solved the case in which a 37-year-old mother of two was gang-raped inside a moving car on Park Street 10 years ago, the IPS officer was transferred and posted as deputy inspector-general (training). The Opposition had then accused the Mamata government of penalising Sen for achieving the breakthrough in the Park Street case.

This is not the first time that the judiciary has entrusted Sen with cases where allegations of bias and negligence have emerged against the investigating agencies.

On Tuesday, Chief Justice Srivastava expressed “wonder” after hearing the details of the four complaints and said: “I am spellbound.”

The chief justice then asked advocate-general S.N. Mukherjee: “Why are such incidents taking place in this state?”

The advocate-general said the incidents were shocking. “Arrests were made in all the cases. The state will try its best so that the offenders are punished,” Mukherjee said, before stressing that several reports have suggested that women are safer in Bengal.

The chief justice assured the lawyers appearing for the petitioners: “If you want an investigation by any other agency, write to this court. The court will consider your demand.”

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