The Leaders of West Bengal Democratic Mahila Samiti visit in the house of raped and dead victim Munia Das at Baranagar in North 24 Parganas District ----Avijit Bose
ON March 19 a delegation of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) met the chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW) at New Delhi and submitted to her a memorandum about the spate of attacks on women that have occurred in West Bengal in the last seven to eight months. They also expressed concern over the attitude of the state government towards these attacks, Even the West Bengal chief minister has been making statements questioning the veracity of the victims’ statements, the delegation pointed out.
Describing these attacks as cases of political vendetta, the delegation of the All India Democratic Women's Association said these incidents of atrocities against women are on the rise. So far, 23 women have been raped, 513 women molested and 757 women physically assaulted in the state by anti-socials allegedly associated with the ruling Trinamul Congress (TMC) party. In addition to this, there is an exponential increase in cases of rape and molestation of women having no political association whatsoever. Unfortunately, the AIDWA memorandum said, “their complaints have been discredited even before any investigation could be conducted, by people in positions of authority who have alleged that these reports were fabricated and were part of a conspiracy to denigrate the government.”
The memorandum quoted some examples of this trend. On February 5, 2012, a woman was gangraped in Kolkata, in a car. When she was able to overcome her trauma and fear, she went to lodge a police complaint on February 9 but was humiliated by the policemen present. When she approached the senior police officials and an enquiry was ordered by the Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), the chief minister, the police commissioner and a cabinet minister publicly stated that her story was fabricated and politically motivated. This was despite the fact that the police found prima facie evidence in support of her allegations. Such statements do not augur well as far as justice for the victim is concerned, the AIDWA said.
In another incident that took place on February 25, 2012, a gang armed with choppers and firearms looted the passengers of a train at Admadpur Katwa in Bardhman. A woman who resisted was dragged out of the train and raped. Once again the chief minister, however, accused the woman victim of concocting a story for political motives. The chief minister even went to the extent of saying that the victim’s husband was from the CPI(M). But the truth is that she is a widow whose husband died 11 years ago, and neither of them had had any political affiliations. In this case too, investigations have corroborated her complaint, but earlier fears of inaction have been strengthened.
The AIDWA memorandum quoted some more cases. These included the rape of a deaf and dumb girl at Bankura government hospital by a junior doctor on February 27, 2012; the rape of a five year old girl child on February 29, 2012 by a TMC worker Sudhanshu Mondol in Namkhana Block of South 24 Paraganas; the rape of an Adivasi agricultural labourer by anti-socials near Seuri in Birbhum on February 27, 2012; the rape and murder of Munia Devi Das of Howrah Bally on February 24, 2012; the rape of an Adivasi daily wage earner at Chandrakona in Jangalmahal on March 10, 2012 etc. The AIDWA pointed out that “This spate of atrocities has created conditions of insecurity for women in the state.”
The organisation further said that after the assembly elections, workers of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) have been facing brutal attacks by TMC goons. Many centres are being forcibly closed down. Anganwadi workers are being forcibly prevented from attending the centre, and many have been forced to leave their villages. Those who do no evacuate are being penalised with fines ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,00,000. Those who have bravely opened the centres despite the threat have been molested and assaulted. In North 24 Parganas, an Anganwadi Sahayika, Bakuli Sardar, was shot dead by TMC miscreants. Attacks are occurring most frequently in the districts of Bankura, Bardhman, West Midnapore, East Midnapore, and North 24 Parganas.
The AIDWA memorandum said, “A general deterioration in the law and order situation is only too apparent. When these attacks are accompanied by comments made by those at the highest level of political and police administration casting aspersions on complainants for hatching a conspiracy against the government, these anti-socials are likely to be emboldened and the course of justice subverted. No woman will dare to lodge a complaint in these circumstances.”
In view of such a fast deteriorating situation, the AIDWA urged the NCW to send a team to West Bengal to investigate the cases and to make your recommendations to the highest authorities in the interest of justice for the women of West Bengal, as early as possible.
The delegation comprised AIDWA president Shyamali Gupta, vice president Subhashini Ali, general secretary Sudha Sundararaman and treasurer Banani Biswas.
The NCW chairperson, Smt Mamta Sharma, gave the delegation a patient and sympathetic hearing and assured the members that the commission would send an enquiry committee to West Bengal before the end of the month.
People's Democracy, March 25, 2012