A 60-year-old woman has been staying in one room for over a month now, on the first floor of a guest house in Kolkata. She steps out only once to record her statement before the magistrate, as she is too scared to return to her village in Purba Medinipur District, 130 km away.

The night of May 4-5, two days after the West Bengal Assembly elections results,  she filed a complaint to the police and filed a plea in the Supreme Court alleging that Trinamool men attacked her inside her home and one of them raped her, as her five-year-old grandson watched. She was also forced to consume some poison due to which she had spent more than a month in hospital. 

Her family back in Purba Medinipur claims that they are afraid to venture out to manage their 1.5 bigha farmlands alleging money offering calls in exchange to drop the rape case. Being BJP supporters themselves, they have admitted that three out of the four accused are their relatives who are TMC supporters. The family also alleges that they have a prior land dispute with the accused.

TMC has issued a statement on the incident, calling it BJP propaganda to malign its image in the state by hiding the victim. They have also noted that the woman was mentally challenged.

The family alleged that the 60-year-old was tested 12 days after the incident when she was admitted to a private hospital in Kolkata for poisoning after 12 days. With the help of the state BJP unit, the woman was able to move the supreme court seeking a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).

Two months after the alleged incident, Kolkata police escorted her to a local court to record her statement under Section 164 of the CrPC on July 8 after BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta and MLA Suvendu Adhikakry raised the issue.

While two of the four accused, Muhammed Usman and Subrata Kumar Das have been arrested, Gautam Das and Sukanta Das are absconding.

Describing the events on the day of the alleged incident, the victim's son-in-law said that the day after the state election results were announced, TMC men along with miscreants landed up at homes of BJP supporters like themselves in the Purba Medinipur village and threatened them. “They lobbed crude bombs. After this, my mother-in-law’s son and his wife left the house.” On May 4 at midnight, the men allegedly returned, and four of them forced their way into the house. “My mother-in-law was tied to a cot and then raped by Usman. They also poisoned her.”

He added that his 5-year old son was hiding under the bed to escape the men, naming Gautam Das, Subrata Kumar Das and Sukanta Das the other attackers. “They are our relatives but supporters of the TMC. There is a long-standing dispute over land between them and my mother-in-law.” The 60-year-old lost her husband in August 2016.

The family was alerted by the neighbours who found the woman unconscious, said her relative. On the morning of May 5, she was taken to a primary health care centre from where she was referred to a district hospital. With the intervention of the local BJP members, she was taken to a private nursing home, followed by the hospital in Kolkata.

Son-in-law said, “Police were reluctant to lodge an FIR, registering one after a lot of persuasions. They did not even help in conducting the medical test.” The report at the Kolkata hospital says the woman had injuries in her private parts and an abrasion on a leg. In the “alleged cause” section, the report says, ‘As alleged by patient and attendant, the patient was sexually assaulted and orally given organophosphate poisoning'.

Ather Kolkata house, the 60-year-old said “supporters of the ruling party (TMC)” attacked her. “I want to return home and see my son, daughters and son-in-law, especially my grandchild who always stayed with me. But who will save me if I face another attack?”

The family has witnessed attacks since the 2016 Assembly polls. “My husband and I were beaten up by TMC workers then. He had to flee and stayed away for days… They are very powerful. Even before the polls, they used to terrorise people like us.”, she added.

SP. K Amarnath of Purba Medinipur alleged that the delay was not on the police's part. “The victim was admitted to hospital till June 12. After she was discharged, she didn’t return to her original address. We looked for her and finally found her in Nandigram. A notice was served and her statement was recorded.”

The SP also added that in the original FIR, the woman’s daughter-in-law named only one person. “Later, in her statement before the magistrate, the woman took four names. Three of them are her relatives. The investigation is on.” The police have collected medical samples from all three hospitals where the victim was treated.

The arrested accused, Usman and Das, have been booked under Sections 448 (house trespass), 376 (rape), 328 (causing hurt by means of poison) and 307 (attempt to murder).

The son-in-law has stated that he has acquired a "huge debt" as he had to travel to and from Kolkata for the court case. Being a daily wager he says, “They have been threatening her son and daughter-in-law. Local TMC leaders have also told labourers and owners of tractors not to help them on their land.” With the family confined to their homes, he occasionally goes over with rice and vegetables. He also claims to receive threat calls towards the end of May and recently has been offered Rs. 15 Lakhs and a job if the rape case is dropped. He said he refused.

Local TMC Leader Partha Pratim Das admits to the fact that the accused is "our supporters" but alleges that the rape case is "false and fabricated."

 “The person who has been arrested is not even a resident of the area, he lives 30 km away. Besides another accused is almost 70-year-old. Is it possible for a person like him to assault a woman? BJP is trying to malign us by such false complaints.),” he said.

After the High Court set up the NHRC probe on June 18 the police showed urgency in the matter claimed the son-in-law. “They called me several times asking that my mother-in-law should record her statement. But we first wanted to record our statement before the NHRC. The team talked to my mother-in-law and also the five-year-old.”

The 60-year-old’s daughter asks how long things would go on like this “just because they supported the BJP”. “We don’t trust the police. We want them to arrest the remaining accused. We want the safety to live without fear in our house,” she says.

 

 

 

 

 


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