KOLKATA: A 32-year-old tribal widow living in a Birbhum district village was allegedly gang-raped by a group of five after she failed to shell out Rs 50,000 penalty as prescribed by a kangaroo court for her relationship with a man belongs to a different caste.
The woman and her paramour were caught when they were returning from a local market and they were kept confined in a local club where the two were assaulted before the kangaroo court was organised. In her complaint to police, the woman alleged she was dragged to a place behind the club where five men raped her.
Though the incident took place on August 18, the victim did not dare to visit the police station to lodge a complaint. A local leader of the tribals’ social wing took the woman to the police and the news of gangrape surfaced on Sunday.
Police arrested seven persons, including the tribal head of the village. The accused were remanded to police custody for seven days.
The police said the woman’s husband died a few years ago and she, a mother of two, developed a relationship with a man living in the same area who doesn’t belong to the tribal community. "The local tribals were against the relationship and the incident appears to be a fall out of it," said a police officer.
In the complaint lodged with Mohammadbazar police station, the woman said she and the man were returning from a local religious ritual and they were waylaid. "The group of men took us to the local club where we were assaulted. I was told to pay a penalty of Rs 50,000 which was not possible for me. Five of the men dragged me into the forest behind the club where I was gang-raped. Later, I was dragged back to the club where they confined me and my friend overnight. We were released the next morning," the woman mentioned in her complaint.
The police said the woman did not mention about the kangaroo court as it was held outside the club and the woman and her friend were confined in a room which was bolted from outside. "But our investigation revealed the kangaroo court comprising the village heads was organised promptly and the volume of penalty was prescribed there," said a police officer.
Birbhum SP Shyam Singh said the woman mentioned five names in the FIR. "First two persons and a village head were arrested. Later, more suspects were rounded up. An investigation is going on," he said.