West Bengal violence: NCW says women receiving rape threats, want daughters to leave state

The victims complained that they are not being provided with any medical facilities, healthy food or even clean drinking water, it added.
NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma (File photo| IANS)
NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma (File photo| IANS)

NEW DELHI: An NCW team visiting West Bengal to take stock of the post-poll violence has found that many women are receiving rape threats and want their daughters to leave the state as police are not taking effective steps for their protection, chairman of the women's rights body Rekha Sharma said on Friday.

Victims are unable to voice their complaints due to the fear of backlash, she said in a statement.

After the third straight convincing victory for the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in the assembly election, West Bengal has witnessed a number of violent incidents since Sunday, when the results were announced.

Taking suo moto cognisance of videos purportedly showing women being beaten up in West Bengal's Nandigram assembly constituency, the National Commission for Women had on Tuesday announced that it will send a team to the state for further inquiry into the matter.

"The team received information about many stranded victims, who left their homes because of violence, are currently forced to stay in a shelter home. The team was informed by the victims that they were physically assaulted and their homes were vandalised and set ablaze by TMC goons," the NCW statement said.

"The complainants told the team that they have been receiving rape and threat calls every day. The women also said that they are not being provided any protection by the police or state authorities. The women said that they have left the elderly in their homes and are worried about their safety," it said.

The shelter homes that these people are staying in have no facilities.

The victims complained that they are not being provided with any medical facilities, healthy food or even clean drinking water, it added.

The NCW team headed by Sharma talked to many women who said they were worried about the safety of their daughters and wanted them to leave the state for their safety, according to the statement.

After talking to several victims, the NCW found that West Bengal police officials are not taking effective steps to provide security to women, the statement said.

"Victims are unable to speak about their complaints due to the fear of backlash. Accountability of police and state authorities need to be fixed."

There is also a need for sensitisation and training of police officials for better handling of cases related to women and the number of women police officers in the force must be increased.

"There is no effective rehabilitation scheme for women in distress and women are unaware of the welfare schemes launched for them by the central government. There is a need for conducting awareness programmes about schemes of central government at the district level," it stated.

The NCW alleged that it was supposed to meet many more victims of the post-poll violence but the state government officials refused to facilitate the meetings citing restrictions on movement in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team members also met Governor Jagdeep Dhankar who advised them to seek detailed information from district magistrates and police officials regarding the number of FIRs filed in connection with the violence and their status thereof.

He also suggested that police officials should be directed to appear before the NCW with the reports, the statement said.

At least six people had been killed in the post-poll violence in different parts of West Bengal till Tuesday.

The BJP has alleged that TMC-backed goons have killed a number of its workers, attacked its women members, vandalised houses, looted shops of its members and ransacked its offices.

The TMC has claimed that three of its supporters have been killed in violent incidents.

Members of other parties, including the Left and the Congress, have also attacked the TMC for the violence, which they said has been aimed at their members and sympathisers as well.

The TMC has denied the charges.

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