Intellectuals express concern over series of sexual assaults
A section of Bengal’s civil society issued a statement on Friday, expressing concern over the series of sexual assaults that had been reported from various parts of the state of late.
The statement— signed by 19 individuals — have also condemned chief minister Mamata Banerjee for the manner in which she reacted to the gruesome incident in Nadia’s Hanskhali.
“The way repeated incidents of rape, gang rape and later murders are taking place, especially the way minor girls are being victimised, has infused fear in us (and) is biting our conscience,” the statement read, which comes close on the heels of a similar letter sent to the chief minister in the aftermath of the Bogtui carnage.
Among the signatories are filmmakers Aparna Sen and Satarupa Sanyal, thespians Bibhas Chakraborty and Kaushik Sen, activists Binayak Sen, educationist Miratun Nahar and several other doctors, lawyers and academics. The statement has been issued under the banner of the Citizens’ Committee Against Assault on Women.
The statement, however, does not feature the names of actors Dhritiman Chattopadhyay and Parambrata Chattopadhyay, thespian Suman Mukhopadhyay, and poet Srijato Bandopadhyay, who were among the signatories to a letter sent to Mamata following the Bogtui carnage. The letter had urged her to put an end to political violence in Bengal.
“The questions that are paining our hearts are, whether the politics of the ruler is a safe haven for perpetrators? Has the rule of law, women’s right to security, an injured individual’s right to treatment, become extinct in this state?” read Friday’s statement.
“What pains us more is the postincident reaction of the Chief Minister as the administrative head of the state; the way the death sexually assaulted school student was termed as ‘a small incident’; by trying to find a fault in the ‘character’ of the victim…on which path is she (Mamata) trying to lead the state?” the statement questioned.
The statement also draws parallels between the Hanskhali and Hathras incidents. At Hanskhali, the victim was denied treatment and when she passed away her corpse was allegedly forcefully cre¬mated at a local crematorium, which has no government registration.
Hathras in Uttar Pradesh was witness to a similar incident, where the local police was accused of forcibly cremating the body of a 19year old dalit woman when she passed away after two weeks of being gang raped by four upper caste men.
The incident that happened in 2020 had shaken the nation. The signatories to the statement have also demanded that local police cooperate with the CBI, to which the investigation into the Hanskhali incident has been handed over by Calcutta High Court.
“The other incidents must also be probed neutrally and expeditiously to ensure the strictest punishment for the perpetrators. We have seen that from Kamduni, Park Street of Kushmundi nowhere have the culprits been served the highest punishment. We also demand that the state government takes appropriate steps to ensure the security of women. We want a Bengal free of assault against women,” the statement concludes.