|People in Kolkata holding candlelight in the memory of the teenager (Pic: IANS)|
Tuesday, January 07, 2014
Gang-rape victim’s family meets the President
NEW DELHI (AA) - The family of the West Bengal teenage girl, who was gang-raped twice in October and burnt alive by the accomplices of the alleged rapists, met Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, a fellow Bengali, on Tuesday and demanded a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) inquiry into the shocking incident.
The 16-year old daughter of a cab driver from northern state of Bihar, who was gang-raped by six men in October on two consecutive days in Madhyamgram town, a 90 minute drive from Kolkata, the state capital, died in a Kolkata hospital on December 31 while fighting severe burns.
All the six men were arrested and charged for rape.
After the meeting with the President, the family members of the victim told the media that they were threatened by the police and asked to forget the case. “The police threatened me and told me to forget the case or I won’t be able to drive your taxi. The public are supporting us but not the state government,” the father of the teenage girl alleged saying attempts were being made to send his family to Bihar.
Before meeting the President, the family of the victim met Chairperson of National Commission for Women (NCW) Mamata Sharma who promised to investigate the gruesome incident independently. “The police should have given them protection after the first rape complaint. We will investigate,” Ms. Sharma said.
In her dying declaration to the police on December 31, the girl stated that two men poured kerosene over her and set her on fire on December 23. The two men were arrested the next day but police disclosed the girl’s statement only on January 2.
At the time of her death, the victim was reportedly pregnant. Additional Commissioner of Police, (Bidhannagar police) Anant told the media on January 4 that the victim was pregnant at the time of her death quoting the doctor who treated her.
“We have sent the fetus to the forensic science laboratory for determination of the age of the fetus,” Anant had said.
The victim’s family members met West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan on Friday demanding the death penalty for the rapists. They also sought security for the family.
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, an international rights group, had condemned the incident and questioned the role of police.
“Police appeared to have done nothing to protect the young woman and her family after her initial complaint of being a victim to a heinous kind of gang rape,” the group said in a media statement.
“Police appeared to have heartlessly pressurized the family to dispose of her body for its mishandling in order to save themselves from dealing with public anger and protest,” the group said.
The police reportedly wanted a quiet and hasty cremation against the wishes of the victim’s father, who being a loyalist of a Leftist trade union, wanted to organize a public funeral procession.
West Bengal’s Leftist opposition alleges that state administration wanted to bury the truth along with the girl maintaining that no security was provided to the young girl after being sexually assaulted twice.
On Friday morning, the funeral rites of the victim seem to have generated a political controversy with the presence of TMC (Trinamool Congress) politician Ashok Jha who objected to the presence of CPM (Communist Party of Indian-Marxist) councillor Sudhangshu Seal.
Jha, a former parliamentarian, reportedly kept shouting over the presence of Seal leaving the grieving family in a state of shock.
Anadolu Agency, January 7, 2014