All 13 accused in the alleged gangrape of a 20-year-old tribal woman in West Bengal's Birbhum district, including the village head who had reportedly given the orders for rape, have been arrested. All accused have been sent to 14-days jail custody by a local court.
Birbhum/Kolkata: A court in Birbhum district on Thursday sent 13 persons arrested for allegedly gangraping a 20-year-old tribal woman to 14-day judicial custody as the brutal assault allegedly on the orders of a khap panchayat as punishment for falling in love with a man from a different religion triggered outrage.
Rejecting their bail petitions, Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SM), Bolpur Pijush Ghosh sent the 13 accused to jail for two weeks.
In Kolkata, West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan advocated corporal punishment for the culprits.
The woman's family, in their complaint, said that she was gangraped by 13 persons after a meeting of community leaders who decided to punish her for being in love with a boy from outside the community, at Labhpur about 200 km from Kolkata on January 21.
The victim said that among those who brutalised her were people old enough to be her father.
"The morol (village headman) ordered that I be 'enjoyed' by the men of the village. Following his orders, at least 13 people, including (some) members of a single family, continuously raped me. I lost count of how many times I was raped," said the woman.
Sources in Suri hospital where she was admitted, said that she underwent some tests and was now in a stable condition.
Minister for Women and Child Welfare Sashi Panja, said "I have spoken to the Superintendent of Police and arrests have been made. All the 13 including the village head have been arrested." She said all medical tests have been conducted.
In Delhi, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari asked the state government to ensure "strictest punishment" to the culprits.
"In a democratic country, based upon the rule of law, no vigilantism can be permitted. West Bengal government must immediately arrest the accused and stringent punishment must be ensured," he said.
West Bengal Women Commission Chairperson Sunanda Goswami said that the Commission would order a probe into the incident tomorrow.
The district SP will be asked to probe the matter and submit a report to the commission within 10 days.
State Panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee said it had become a social malaise and had to be discussed at the national level.
TMC general secretary Mukul Roy told PTI, "Government is firm and is for strictest action against the culprits for committing this heinous crime. All the accused have been arrested and an inquiry is on."
TMC MP Derek O'Brien tweeted, "Awoke to a terrible news of a young tribal girl gang-raped on Khap orders in Birbhum. 10 'beasts' swiftly rounded up. Social malaise; must change."
CPI(M) central committee member Mohammed Salim said "What has happened is barbaric, savage and uncivilised. Such incidents are unexpected in Bengal."
He alleged that incidents of rape had increased in the state as the police were not taking proper steps when such cases were reported and the perpetrators went scot free.
State Congress President Pradip Bhattacharya said, "We are going back to 16th century. This is unprecedented and unacceptable. The state government should take steps to control such incidents."
The incident was condemned by intellectuals like poet Sankha Ghosh and painter Jogen Chowdhury.
"This is barbaric and uncivilised. If we can't stop such incidents then both the state and the country will be doomed," Ghosh, a Sahitya Academi award winner, told PTI.
Chowdhury said,"What happened is shameful and should not have happened. But I personally feel that reporting of such incidents should be done carefully as sometimes it has adverse effects on society," he said.