The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) condemns in the strongest terms the series of horrific atrocities recently perpetrated in West Bengal against women, among whom there are the teenagers, adivasi girls and the specially-abled. In the last one and a half months, at least 15 rapes including murders following rape have taken place in different parts of the state. What is of special concern is the fact that in most cases, the accused are known members of the ruling party, TMC in positions of power in the locality. Secondly, in most cases, the police and civic administration have colluded with the culprits by refusing to take FIRs, intimidating the affected families and even helping the culprits to escape. Sometimes the collusion has been secured by bribes.
Some of the most heinous incidents have taken place in Sagardwip, South 24 Parganas where a student of class iv was raped by a TMC activist; in Basirhat, North 24 Parganas where a 11 year old girl was repeatedly raped for days again by a TMC member until the family was able to lodge a complaint and on April 1; in Harishchandrapur, Maldah, (where an even earlier case of rape and murder of a schoolgirl had taken place) a schoolgirl was abducted from a village mela and gang-raped by TMC goons and the gang leader was helped to escape by the police. On 10 April, in Bolpur, Birbhum, a minor adivasi girl was repeatedly raped by a local Panchayat member of the ruling party and after her sister complained to the police, her family was intimidated.
On 12 April, in Namkhana, South 24 Parganas, a housewife was gangraped and then set on fire; she somehow survived and is lying in hospital with grave injuries. In East Medinipur, a mentally challenged girl was abducted from a roadside pond where she was washing utensils and brutally raped by TMC goons. But the most horrendous incident took place in Hanskhali, Nadia where a 14 year old girl from a daily wager's family was summoned to the birthday party of the son of the locally influential panchayat member, forced to drink, gang-raped and returned home in a critical condition. The family was threatened upon pain of death not to open their mouths. When the girl died, in an incident reminiscent of Hathras, the body was forcibly taken and summarily cremated by the accused themselves. The police initially prevented the family from lodging a case and are busy trying to cover up the tracks even after widespread protests caused the main culprit to be arrested. AIDWA has been active in all these cases in trying to see that the culprits are arrested and the police take proper action.
But both such anti-socials and the police guilty of collusion are being encouraged by objectionable public comments made by the woman chief minister who says things like 'was it a rape or a love affair'? 'Was the girl pregnant?' 'Why did the family wait for four days before lodging the complaint?' This is a deplorable effort to cover up the crimes of her henchmen across the state and the failure to provide any protection to the women. This is the reflection of the fact on the ground that law and order in the state is being crushed under feet by rampaging hooligans who receive support from the administrative head of the state and control the police and the local administration completely. We condemn the statements of the chief minister and demand that this state-sponsored hooliganism be stopped forthwith and that all criminals are immediately brought to justice.
AIDWA demands that the West Bengal state government take immediate measures to end the growing violence against women, arrests of all the culprits and protection to the families of the victims. Strictest action must be taken against police officials for dereliction of duty and abetment in crimes against women. AIDWA has also sent a memorandum to the National Commission for Women and demanded that it take urgent steps to stop violence against women in West Bengal.