Amid Hanskhali furore, tribal girl gang-raped in West Bengal's Santiniketan

The incident occurred hours after TMC MP Saugata Roy expressed concern over crimes against women in the state ruled by a woman Chief Minister
For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)
For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)

KOLKATA: At a time when West Bengal is witnessing a furore over the alleged gang rape and murder of a schoolgirl in Nadia’s Hanskhali, a tribal minor girl was allegedly gang-raped in Santiniketan, Birbhum, when she went to a local fair with her mother. The girl was first admitted to a local hospital and later shifted to SSKM Hospital as her condition was stated to be critical.

The incident occurred hours after TMC MP Saugata Roy expressed concern over crimes against women in the state ruled by a woman Chief Minister.

Roy on Thursday, while attending a programme in her Dum Dum Lok Sabha constituency, had said everyone is worried over incidents of crimes against women. "We will have to ensure zero tolerance on this issue. In a state where the Chief Minister is a woman, if a single such incident takes place under the leadership of her governance, that will be shameful to everyone."

Differences of opinion within the TMC surfaced over Roy’s comment after another MP Shatabdi Roy said she did not support the veteran leader’s statement.

The sexual assault on the tribal girl took place when she went to a chadak mela, a religious festival mainly observed in rural Bengal, with her mother where she met one of her friends. "She was chatting with her friend sitting on the banks of a river where five men turned up. They allegedly beat up her friend and dragged her away. She was allegedly gang-raped," said a police officer in Birbhum district citing the complaint lodged by the victim’s family.

After being shifted to SSKM Hospital, the minor girl underwent surgery. A medical board comprising doctors of gynaecology, forensic medicine, medicine and psychology departments was formed.

"The condition of the girl is now stable. But she is traumatised. After being admitted, she could not recount the incident because of trauma and she refused food too. She is undergoing counselling," said a doctor of the hospital.

The superintendent of police, Birbhum, Nagendranath Tripathi visited the spot. "We have identified three of the suspects who are at large. A hunt is on to track them down,’’ said a police officer, adding, "The girl underwent a medical examination."

Last week’s gang rape in Nadia district and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's comment on it drew flak in political circles in Bengal. She had made a remark wondering whether the victim and the TMC’s leader’s son were in a relationship and whether the minor girl was pregnant. Reacting to the Hanskhali incident, Mamata on Monday said, "Was there a love affair between the girl and the youth? Was she pregnant? The girl died on April 5 and the complaint was lodged on April 10. Why was the complaint not lodged on the same day?"

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