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Bengal gang rape: 13 remanded to judicial custody


Kolkata, Jan 23:

A West Bengal court Thursday remanded 13 people to 14 days’ judicial custody in connection with the gang rape of a tribal woman in the state’s Birbhum district, police said.

“All the 13 accused arrested in this connection were presented before a court which has remanded them to 14 days’ judicial custody,” a Labhpur police station official said.

The horrific incident happened Monday night in Subalpur village, some 180 km from Kolkata.

The 20-year-old woman was allegedly raped by more than a dozen men following the orders of a kangaroo court which found her “guilty of having an affair with a man outside her community”.

“The woman was allegedly gang raped on the orders of a shalishi sabha (kangaroo court) after it found she had an affair with a man outside her community,” Superintendent of Police C. Sudhakar said.

The police have been conducting raids looking for others involved in and around the village which continues to be tense following the brutal incident.

The woman, who is undergoing treatment at the Suri Sadar Hopsital, said she was left at the mercy of the men of her village after she was unable to pay Rs.50,000 as a fine demanded by the morol (headman) for having an affair with a man outside her community.

“The morol ordered that I be enjoyed by the men of the village. Following his orders, at least 10-12 people, including (some) members of a single family, continuously raped me. I lost count of how many times I was raped,” said the woman.

Meanwhile, the state government has said it will not only bear the medical expenses of the victim but will also provide compensation to her.

“We are sensitive to the issue and doing everything possible to not only ensure justice to her but also ensure an example is set by giving stringent punishment to the culprits. The government has provision for compensating such victims,” Women and Child Welfare Minister Shashi Panja said.

Hospital superintendent Asit Biswas said the woman was critical but stable. A medical board has been constituted to look after her.

The incident has evoked strong response from several quarters including governor M K Narayanan, demanding immediate corporal punishment for the culprits.

While the state’s women commission has ordered a probe into the matter, opposition political parties have flayed the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government.

“I think the whole district administration, including the police head, should be sacked immediately. How can such a barbaric incident be allowed to happen,” state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said.

“Instead of indulging in festivities and merry-making, the chief minister should focus on the law and order situation in the state which has gone to the dogs. With repeated incidents of rapes, women now fear to come out. It’s a shame for the whole state,” Communist Party of India-Marxist