Bengal teen gangraped twice, hounded, and finally set on fire

Written by Madhuparna Das | Kolkata | Updated: Jan 2 2014, 13:59pm hrs
Bengal gangrapeThe grieving mother of the victim in Kolkata on Wednesday. (IE photo: Partha Paul)
From the time a teenager was gangraped on successive days until her death Tuesday, the events that unfolded highlight how the alleged rapists continued to torment her family, which found no solace from police and political leaders they claim to have approached. The girl was raped the second time on her way home from the police station, after she had lodged a complaint about the first time.

Initially, the girl was believed to have set herself on fire. Police have, however, since revealed that she gave a dying declaration accusing two men of having set her on fire.

Until November, the family was living in Madhyamgram barely 5 km from Kamduni where a college student had been gangraped and murdered a year ago. Intimidated by the alleged rapists to withdraw the police complaint, the family moved to a new address near the airport and closer to Kolkata, but they hunted her out there too.

The family is from Samastipur in Bihar, and the girls father was earning a living by driving a taxi in Kolkata. She was first gang-raped on October 26, according to her complaint with the Madhyamgram police. On her way home from the police station the next morning, the gang allegedly raped her again out of revenge.

According to her father, the Madhyamgram policemen had initially advised the girl not to lodge a complaint, but the family persuaded them. They kept my daughter and her mother at the police station the whole night and finally registered the complaint, he said. While returning early in the morning, she was raped again. We went back to the police station but they took our signature on a statement written in Bengali, which we could not read. We realised later that it did not mention the second rape but stated my daughter had been molested.

The complaint named Sanjib Talukdar alias Chhotu, Palash Debnath, Papai Roy and three others. The prime accused, Talukdar, is a fish vendor known to be a local tough who had reportedly campaigned for Trinamool Congress and led its bike brigade in the run-up to the Madhyamgram municipality polls, which the Trinamool won.

After Talukdar and Debnath were arrested, the family complained about threats from their aides. The family said they approached the police and the local Trinamool councillor. Everywhere, I was insulted and they raised questions about my daughters character, said the father.

These are criminals backed by the Left parties, said Jyotipriya Mallick, Trinamool minister from the district. Some parties are trying to take political advantage of the case and instigating the family.

In the first week of November, the family shifted to Dum Dum. On December 23, the alleged rapists arrived at the new address and allegedly began threatening the girl and her mother when the father was out working. The mother said she ran out to a booth to call her husband, and that in those brief moments, the house went up in flames with her daughter inside.

In her dying declaration, the girl would later tell the police that she was set on fire by one Minta and that he was helped by Ratan Sil, the landlords son.

Police contradicted themselves on the case they have resgistered. A thana officer said the case is only under IPC section 326 (causing grievous hurt ). A senior officer, however, claimed it includes charges under section 307 IPC (attempt to murder). The father, incidentally, said Airport police officers too pressured him to withdraw the case against the attackers.

All the accused in both cases have been arrested, said G N P Reddy, DGP. The cases are being investigated properly.

The family has alleged negligence at the hospital too. With severe burns, the girl was admitted to the government-run R G Kar Hospital, which has no burns unit. She was allegedly given a plastic bed and the family members had to stand for hours holding the saline bottles. The father said he had repeatedly requested that the girl be shifted to SSKM Hospital, also state-run but with a burns unit, and alleged that doctors at R G Kar did not agree. The family has lodged a complaint against the R G Kar authorities at the hospitals police outpost.

Dibyendu Gautam, superintendent of the hospital, refused to comment on the allegations. The department will speak on this, he said. Chandrima Bhattacharya, Minister of State for Health, said an inquiry has been ordered.